GOING HOME WITH THE TITLE IN THEIR HANDS
Manchester City took control of the title race with a 3-2 victory over Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday. Everton scored the first and last goals in a strange game where you could sense many of the home fans were hoping that City would win to help deny Liverpool the title.
A goal from Sergio Aguero and two from Edin Dzeko saw City home though and due to their superior goal difference they are effectively guaranteed the title if they win their two remaining home games against Aston Villa and West Ham United.
One blow during the game was the departure of Aguero due to injury but he suggested to fans on Twitter he would fit for the run in.
"Thank you for your concern. I left just as a precaution. Fortunately I'm fine, happy for the goal, the win and keeping our dream alive."
Midfielder Yaya Toure was also taken off as a precaution and he admitted after the game that City now feel they will win the league. “We definitely expect for us to win [the title] now,” he admitted.
“We’ve been working so hard this year and if we don’t win the trophy now it will be a massive disappointment for us, and for the club and the fans as well.”
Manager Manuel Pellegrini was a little more circumspect saying: "It is important but we have not finished yet. We have just won one of the three games we must win to lift the title."
Toure has it right – City will now either end the season as Premier League champions or else bitterly disappointed. City have won 15 of their 17 home games this season – scoring 57 and conceding just 13. Neither Aston Villa nor West Ham have anything left to play for and while some might say this means they will be 'relaxed', surely they cannot be expected to match City for intensity and certainly not for quality. So it all comes down to one thing with City – bottle! If they hold their nerve the title should be theirs. However, this is one area where the team has shown signs of vulnerability. Let us not forget the QPR game two seasons ago when they almost blew the title on the final day. There have been little hints of mental fragility from them this season so let us not call this title race done and dusted just yet.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
City have the luxury of watching their remaining two rivals Chelsea and Liverpool play Norwich and Crystal Palace respectively before they are due back in action. They would especially love to see Palace nick a point off Liverpool on Monday night as that would then allow them one slip-up in their remaining two games. The Villa game takes place on Wednesday before all the remaining fixtures take place on Sunday at the same time. Chelsea finish at Cardiff while Liverpool host Newcastle so you would expect those two sides to win on the final day. Both Villa and West Ham will go into their clashes with City on the back of victories but even so, both sides have finished the season relatively poorly and will travel to the Etihad as massive underdogs.
WHAT THE MEDIA ARE SAYING
Paul Wilson (The Observer): The only danger now appears to be complacency, and though City were occasionally guilty of that in their attempts to keep possession and wind down the clock by passing the ball around the back line, there will be no excuse for it in home games against Aston Villa and West Ham. Those clubs have even less to play for than Everton, and while the suspense this season has lasted all the way until May the surprises might now be over. The City fans in the Bullens Road stand were obliged to interrupt their amusing ditties about Steven Gerrard and David Moyes when Romelu Lukaku brought the scores closer but there was no real cause for alarm, Everton were not about to rattle the rafters. Blue Moon rose again before the end.
Henry Winter (The Sunday Telegraph): Manuel Pellegrini, the Chilean guiding Manchester City on a switchback journey towards the title, has become fascinated by life in his temporary domicile and was recently in a Hale picture shop, getting old maps of the local area framed up. After this nervy victory over Everton here, Pellegrini left Goodison Park clutching the road-map pointing him towards the Premier League. He knows the way now. He has almost reached the desired destination. City return to their Etihad home for the final two games, against Aston Villa and West Ham United, with expectation rampant amongst supporters that they will be crowned champions. City can almost touch the trophy now.
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