Manchester City aim to win title in style on final day of season
Four-nil win over Aston Villa sees Manuel Pellegrini's side on brink of championship
Manchester City will go out with all guns blazing in their final game of the season against West Ham United and will not play for the draw that would secure them the Premier League title, manager Manuel Pellegrini said on Wednesday.
City netted their 100th goal of the season in a 4-0 win over Aston Villa which sent them two points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table and put them within touching distance of a second title in three years.
With a vastly superior goal difference over their rivals, City need only a point from Sunday’s clash at the Etihad Stadium, but they will not be playing it safe.
“Now we can talk about the title,” Pellegrini said. “Before this game I was just thinking about winning against Aston Villa.
“Now of course we must win the last game here at home against West Ham. We are not thinking of drawing. We are thinking of trying to play. As we did so far during the whole season here at the Etihad.
“If we play in that way maybe we can win the title.”
The emphatic victory over Aston Villa was far from the comfortable stroll in the park the scoreline suggests, with the visitors’ stubborn rearguard holding out until the 64th minute to send tension levels soaring inside the Etihad.
In contrast to Liverpool, whose gung-ho approach has cost them precious points in their final two outings, City patiently waited for their moment, maintaining their high-tempo passing game throughout.
The breakthrough came courtesy of striker Edin Dzeko, whose two goals in eight minutes gave City breathing space, before Stevan Jovetic added a third and Yaya Toure rounded off the scoring with a superb individual goal in stoppage-time.
“The way we play, I am very happy to win the title that way,” said Pellegrini.
“There are different ways to win the title, I choose this one – this one is attractive football and our fans enjoy the season. You can win titles in another way but for me the aesthetic part of the game is very important.”
City have emerged out of the slipstream of their rivals, avoiding the pressure that inevitably comes from leading the field.
They spent the early part of the campaign trailing Arsenal, before Chelsea took up the baton and passed it to Liverpool, while City hovered on their shoulders, behind on points but with games in hand.
When Liverpool folded under the strain, losing at home to Chelsea and giving away a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 with Crystal Palace on Monday, City took their chance and moved to the front.
“It’s been a strange season because we were never at the top of the table,” Pellegrini said.
“Everybody was talking about us being the favourites but we were nine points behind Liverpool and eight behind Chelsea – we had three games in hand but we had to win all of those games.”