Manchester City has spent just 14 days atop the English Premier League standings this season. But with a win or tie in its final game Sunday against West Ham United, that's where City will finish the season, capping an improbable run to its second championship in three years.
"Now we can talk about the title," City Coach Manuel Pellegrini said. "Because if we win the next game we are going to win the title."
Actually a tie would be good enough. Second-place Liverpool goes into its final game with Newcastle United two points off the lead, so a City draw and a Liverpool win Sunday would leave the teams tied atop the standings and give Pellegrini's team the title on the strength of the tiebreaker, goal differential, where City owns a 13-point advantage.
"I expect to win," Pellegrini said. "We are thinking we have to win the match and the best way to do it is to try to play in the way we always do."
All 10 of Sunday's season-ending games will be televised live on NBC-affiliated networks beginning at 7 a.m. PDT. Manchester City-West Ham will be on NBC while Liverpool-Newcastle will be on NBCSN.
When City won its first title of the Premier League era two years ago, it needed a miracle finish — two stoppage-time goals in its final game — to clinch the championship. So Liverpool Coach Brendan Rodgers, whose team hasn't won a title in 24 years, is refusing to concede.
"It's certainly not over," said Rodgers, whose team had an 11-match winning streak and a five-point lead over City with three games left before losing to Chelsea, then blowing a three-goal advantage in a draw with Crystal Palace. "First and foremost we can only concentrate on our job. And our job is to win the game."
If Liverpool fails to do that, it would leave the door open for third-place Chelsea to sneak past and finish second — provided it can beat last-place Cardiff City.
That is what's left to be decided on the final match day of the EPL season. Lucrative Champions League berths, which go to the top four teams in the table, have already been handed out to City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal. Everton is guaranteed a fifth-place finish, qualifying for the Europa League tournament.
And at the bottom of the standings, Norwich City, Fulham and Cardiff City will be relegated to the second-tier Football League Championship next season.
Both Manchester City, with 99 goals, and Liverpool, with 100, have a chance to break Chelsea's Premier League record of 103 goals in a season.
"We are an attractive team, we score many goals and we are always thinking to score more goals," Pellegrini said. "That to me has the same importance as winning the title. The way we play the whole season.
"There are different ways to win titles, I choose this one with attractive football, that the fans enjoy the season. That is what we do the whole season."
Liverpool's Luis Suarez, who has already clinched the league scoring title with 31 goals, can break the Premier League record for a 38-match season with one more. He enters Sunday tied with Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo and Blackburn's Alan Shearer.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times