Dubai: Manchester City now know exactly what they need to do to retain the Premier League title.
A fraught 1-0 victory — thanks to a wonder strike from captain Vincent Kompany — was enough to ensure that the destiny of the title is in their own hands as they go into the final round of matches on Sunday.
And a trip to the seaside on the south coast of England can be a perfect destination for a title party on Sunday where victory over Brighton will guarantee back-to-back Premier League trophies for Pep Guardiola’s men. Even a draw will be enough if Liverpool fail to defeat Wolverhampton Wanderers.
With the top four teams pretty much sorted — unless Spurs have a gargantuan reversal of fortunes and an eight-goal swing to let Arsenal in — and the relegation trio confirmed — Huddersfield, Fulham and Cardiff will all be in the Championship next season, there will be only two matches that fans will be watching on the TV screens come 6pm (UAE time) on Sunday.
Anfield will witness the classic final-day scenes of fans glued to their radios and phones, looking for a massive favour from Brighton, will also hoping Jurgen Klopp’s men can do the required job at home to at least pick up three points. City fans have the luxury of only having to focus on their own game, but if Brighton can keep up their recent good form — three draws and a narrow defeat to Tottenham since their 5-0 thrashing at Bournemouth — attentions may turn north in the hope that Wolves can also do them a favour.
Should City hold on and claim the title, you have to spare a thought for Liverpool, who are facing the real prospect of ending the season empty-handed despite the number of records they have broken this term.
The Reds could still finish with 97 points, +65 goal difference, one loss all season, the best defensive record, top goalscorer, joint-second top goal scorer, PFA player of the year, win nine of the last 10 games and still win nothing.
While that sounds harsh, it is the form of City that has Liverpool in this position and their numbers are just as impressive.
They have now scored 100 goals in all competitions at the Etihad this season, extending their record for most home goals by an English top-flight team in a single campaign. They have won each of their last 13 Premier League games — it’s the fourth run of a team winning 13+ games in a row in the competition’s history, with City the only side to have done so twice.
And they have beaten every team they have faced in the league for the second consecutive season; the only other English top-flight team to achieve this were Preston between 1888-89 and 1889-90.
Next stop Sunday to see if this roller-coaster season has any final twists.
THE TOP TWO
P W D L GF GA Pts
MAN CITY 37 31 2 4 91 22 95
LIVERPOOL 37 29 7 1 87 22 94
Chelsea 37 21 8 8 63 39 71
Tottenham 37 23 1 13 65 37 70
Arsenal 37 20 7 10 70 50 67
Man United 37 19 9 9 65 52 66
Man United v Cardiff
Burnley v Arsenal
Brighton v Man City
Tottenham v Everton
Crystal Palace v Bournemouth
Fulham v Newcastle
Liverpool v Wolverhampton
Leicester v Chelsea
Watford v West Ham
Southampton v Huddersfield