Manchester City will head into the final day of the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season needing only a draw at home against West Ham United in order to walk away with their second Premier League title in three seasons.
City assured themselves of their powerful position ahead of Championship Sunday by thrashing 15th-place Aston Villa 4-0 Wednesday at the Etihad. The victory puts Manchester City two points clear of suddenly floundering Liverpool who less than two weeks ago appeared in prime position to bring the title to Merseyside for the first time in the Premier League era, which began in 1992.
But then Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard bobbled an easy pass and stumbled face first to the pitch, leading to an easy Demba Ba goal in what was eventually a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea on April 27.
Then on Monday, Liverpool ran up a 3-0 lead over Crystal Palace and appeared again to be in the pole position in the title race. But a late-game defensive collapse let Crystal Palace equalize and the final 3-3 draw took the title race out of Liverpool’s hands and gave Manchester City full control of their own fate.
Unlike their northern England rivals, Manchester City did not falter, as they overcame a stuttering first half to blast home four second-half goals, including two by Edin Dzeko, and place the Premier League trophy firmly in their grasp.
With 83 points to Liverpool’s 81, a draw against visiting West Ham would clinch the title even if Liverpool defeat Newcastle at Anfield, thanks to City’s commanding 13 goal advantage in the goal difference tiebreaker. The only scenario that sees Liverpool getting their hands on the trophy would require a shock away victory at Manchester City by the London side, who appear to have escaped relegation by a mere seven points
West Ham have won only 11 of their 37 games going into the season’s final day.
But even a stunning and highly improbable West Ham victory would still require that Liverpool cleanly defeat ninth-place Newcastle, and with the way the Reds have been playing n the past couple of games, nothing of the kind seems certain.
Before winning the 2011/2 Premier League title under former manager Roberto Mancini, Manchester City had not won a top flight crown since 1968.