City within a whisker of crowning moment

Manchester side hope to avoid nerve-racking repeat of decider two years ago as they face West Ham United on final day of the season

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 May, 2014, 12:34am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 May, 2014, 12:34am


Manchester City will hope to avoid the nerve-shredding drama of the 2011-12 season's final day when they host West Ham United in their Premier League title decider on Sunday.

Two years ago, City needed to match Manchester United's result to take the title on the last day and only prevailed after Sergio Aguero scored a heart-stopping injury-time winner at home to Queens Park Rangers.

This time the scenario is more straightforward, as although City lead second-place Liverpool by only two points, their superior goal difference means that a draw against West Ham will suffice.

I expect to win the match and I'm not thinking about a draw or anything else
City manager Manuel Pellegrini

City closed to within touching distance of a second title in three years by overwhelming Aston Villa 4-0 on Wednesday, but manager Manuel Pellegrini has warned his side that the job is not finished yet.

"It is important to be calm ahead of this game," said the Chilean, who has already led City to glory in the League Cup.

"We have experienced players and some of them played in the game when we last won the Premier League, but the situation is different. Many of the team are different, and we are playing different opposition. I expect to win the match and I'm not thinking about a draw or anything else."

Liverpool's title challenge was compromised by a 2-0 loss at home to Chelsea followed by a 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace on Monday, in which they let a 3-0 lead slip in the last 11 minutes.

However, if Liverpool win at home to Newcastle United and West Ham pull off a shock victory at the Etihad Stadium, the Merseyside club will secure their first English top-flight title since 1990.

"All we can do is win our own game, and send the supporters away happy. They have been brilliant for us this year," said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

While City's rout of Villa took them to 100 league goals for the campaign, Liverpool are on 99.

Meanwhile, Liverpool's top scorer Luis Suarez, who has netted 31 times this season, needs one more goal to claim the record for goals in a 38-game Premier League season outright.

With the four Champions League qualifying places secured by City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, the only other issue to be decided concerns the Europa League slots.

Fifth-place Everton, who visit FA Cup finalists Hull City, have secured one of the two Europa League berths and Tottenham Hotspur can pip Manchester United to the second if they avoid defeat at home by Villa.

United visit Southampton, where interim manager Ryan Giggs takes charge of the defending champions for the final time.

"There is not really a lot of pressure on me at the moment because it is just four games and we can't really win anything," said player-coach Giggs, who has yet to announce his plans for next season. "However, we can qualify for the Europa League and we will carry on trying to do that."

All we can do is win our own game, and send the supporters away happy
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Norwich City are certain to join Fulham and Cardiff City in succumbing to relegation as they trail fourth-bottom West Bromwich Albion by three points with a vastly inferior goal difference.

Norwich close the campaign at home to Arsenal.

Third-place Chelsea will be without Frank Lampard due to illness for their trip to Cardiff, meaning the talismanic midfielder, whose contract is due to expire, may have played his last game for the club.

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce will take charge of the final game of the season against a backdrop of growing uncertainty surrounding his future.

The London club secured their top-flight status with victory over Spurs last weekend, but reports have since emerged that the club's owners plan changes in response to fan discontent about the team's playing style. "Speculation is part of the game. Whether it becomes a reality, only time will tell," Allardyce said.