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Day of destiny dawns for Man City, Liverpool

11 May 2014, 15:47

London -The final day of the Premier League season dawned on Sunday with Manchester City needing just a point from their last game to pip closest rivals Liverpool to the title.

Either club's colours could adorn the silver Premier League trophy at 1750 local time (1650 GMT), but it is City, champions in 2012, who hold the advantage ahead of their home game with West Ham United.

Manuel Pellegrini's side, who have scored 100 goals this season, lead Liverpool by two points and their superior goal difference (+63 to +50) means that a draw will be enough for them to take the title.

For Liverpool to claim a first championship crown since 1990, they must win at home to Newcastle United and hope that West Ham pull off a shock win at the Etihad Stadium.

City closed to the brink of the title by beating Aston Villa 4-0 on Wednesday and captain Vincent Kompany has urged his team-mates to approach Sunday's game with the same level of composure.

"Everyone was happy after the win over Villa, but there were no excessive celebrations because everybody knew what a tough game it had been to win," the Belgian centre-back told the club website.

"Now, it's all about today and our game against West Ham. It's really important not to get carried away and we all understand that. I'd say it was a calm dressing room after Aston Villa -- calm and focused.

"We won't prepare any differently for today's game and it's important that we don't. We need to continue preparing the way we have each week throughout the season."

City have been boosted by the return from injury of Argentine striker Sergio Aguero, who scored a famous stoppage-time winner against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2012 campaign to give his side the title.

Liverpool led the table until two weeks ago, only for a 2-0 loss at home to Chelsea and a 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace -- in which they let a 3-0 lead slip in the last 11 minutes -- to gift City the initiative.

But manager Brendan Rodgers, whose side finished in seventh place last season, has defended his players against accusations that they have lost their nerve.

- United in Europa contention -

"We certainly don't feel here as if we've thrown it away. We knew it was always going to be tough. The final hurdles are always difficult to get over," Rodgers told regional newspaper the Liverpool Echo.

"If we win on Sunday and don't win the league but finish second, that means we've finished second to the richest and most expensive team in world sport.

"That will be a sign of the remarkable progress we have made this season."

With England midfielder Jordan Henderson available again after completing a three-match ban, Liverpool will be virtually at full strength for the visit of ninth-place Newcastle.

Build-up to the final round of top-flight matches dominated the sports pages of Britain's Sunday newspapers, with the Mail on Sunday asking: "Blue moon or Red dawn?"

However, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has declared that City's success is "pretty depressing" due to the lack of English players in their squad.

Dyke, who this week unveiled proposals to increase the number of English players playing in the Premier League, told several newspapers: "It's been a great league this year. I think the Premier League has been brilliant.

"But I think there are probably two England players playing at City and two or three at Chelsea, although there won't be that many next year. That's pretty depressing."

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

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

Norwich City, who travel to Arsenal, are already certain to be relegated alongside Fulham and Cardiff City as they trail fourth-bottom West Bromwich Albion by three points with a greatly inferior goal difference.


Sunday (1400 GMT):

Cardiff City v Chelsea, Fulham v Crystal Palace, Hull City v Everton, Liverpool v Newcastle United, Manchester City v West Ham United, Norwich City v Arsenal, Southampton v Manchester United, Sunderland v Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion v Stoke City


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