Guangzhou Evergrande clinches sixth straight title

A 1-1 draw with Yanbian Fude on Sunday was enough for Luiz Felipe Scolari and his Guangzhou Evergrande side to secure a sixth consecutive Chinese Super League title. For Felipao it was a his second in less than 17 months at the helm.

The title success had been seemingly inevitable for some time, with the Guangzhou side maintaining a steady lead throughout the second half of the season. There was a challenge-primarily from the direction of Jiangsu Suning-but it was never particularly close.

Evergrande can now can travel to Nanjing for their away clash with Suning with the knowledge that the title is won. But where exactly was the title won and lost?

1.) Jackson Martinez injury

It's incredible to write that the club's record signing and one of the most decorated players to arrive in the CSL has contributed next to nothing in his side's title win but it is difficult to argue anything else.

Evergrande were in subpar form when Martinez suffered an injury in April, despite the Colombian having found the net three times in five league appearances. In the AFC Champions League in particular, it was evident he was not yet settled into the side even at that early stage.

Despite being fit since August, he has appeared just four times since and found the net just once. Evergrande, meanwhile, accelerated away from their rivals not long after Martinez's absence began. With Alan, Ricardo Goulart and Gao Lin as their attacking line, the side has looked considerably better balanced.

The question is now whether Martinez will be given a second chance in 2016 by a notoriously inpatient club.

2.) Evergrande's early ACL elimination

The other early season factor which played into Evergrande's hands was their group stage exit from the AFC Champions League. While rival Shanghai SIPG was involved until the quarter-final stage, the Cantonese were able to solely focus on their league challenge.

Evergrande have of course shown the ability to compete on all fronts in the past, but the 2016 season had the potential to be their toughest yet-it was not.

Asian competition is still the pinnacle for all clubs but with the potential for long trips to West Asia or Australia sandwiched between league fixtures, it can be a major challenge to keep squads fresh while competing on all fronts.

3.) Hebei's challenge fades

On the weekend Evergrande wrapped up their title, it was notable that Manuel Pellegrini was able to claim his first win as coach of Hebei China Fortune. The club which had looked likely to be the biggest competition to Evergrande up until June had crumbled and success over Tianjin Teda was just their second win in fourteen games.

Having picked up 30 points in their first 14 games, their subsequent 14 has brought just nine. To put that into context, Evergrande have 61 points at this stage.

Where did it go wrong? Ezequiel Lavezzi's departure for the Copa America and subsequent season-ending injury was without doubt a major factor, while Gervinho and Stephane Mbia's second half of the season form has been poor.

Simply put, the squad was not deep enough and the cracks eventually appeared-costing Li Tie his job. Pellegrini's record of one win in five games suggests it was not simply a managerial issue.

4.) Evergrande end a brief wobble in style

A run of three league games without a win in August, left Evergrande looking vulnerable at the top of the table, as their lead was reduced to just a five-points having been at one point in double figures.

They needed a reaction and answered with aplomb away to Hebei with a 3-0 win. The next three games saw the side twice hit six goals and also claim an invaluable away draw at Sven-Goran Eriksson's Shanghai SIPG. It was an emphatic statement at a time when reports about Scolari's future were growing in frequency.

Over the course of four league games, the Brazilian duo of Ricardo Goulart and Alan would fire a combined eight goals as Evergrande turned on the style with the former shooting to the top of the goalscorer charts.

5.) A shock Suning defeat leaves Evergrande cantering

The day after Evergrande had claimed a valuable draw at Shanghai SIPG on 24 September, Jiangsu Suning had the chance to cut the gap at the top of the table to just four points with a win at lowly Hangzhou.

However, Ramires, Alex Teixeira and co. found themselves on the receiving end of an embarrassing 3-0 defeat. With four games remaining, it had appeared the perfect opportunity to ramp up the pressure on Evergrande-especially with an away visit to Jiangsu for Evergrande to come.

It was an opportunity squandered, leaving the Cantonese side able to wrap up the title before the two sides met.

For Jiangsu it has been a season of encouragement about what can be achieved, but there will also be regrets about how they fell short at key moments. Evergrande step up their game at such times and that is why they are now celebrating a sixth consecutive triumph. Their dominance shows little sign of abating.