By Justin McCahren
Manchester City is now so close that they can taste it. The Citizens are now just 90 minutes away from hoisting their first English league title in 44 years. Behind two late second half goals by Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure, City outlasted a game Newcastle squad. The first goal came anxiously late for the City faithful. When Toure scored in the 70th minute, you could see that it lifted a great weight off their shoulders. Toure would add another goal to set up a simple scenario, if City wins this Sunday, the Premier League is all theirs.
City isn’t as familiar with titles as they are with collapsing under pressure. As successful as Manchester Untited has been at winning titles, Manchester City has been succesful at failing to win. City and United now sit tied atop the Barclay’s Premier League with just one fixture each to play. The Citizens noted advantage is the tie breaker they hold, with an 8 goal gap in goal differential.
That goal differential only matters if City handles their business. They must win at home in front of their Etiahad faithful against former manager Mark Hughes and his Queens Park Rangers. There always seems to be intriguing side stories when City is in this position, and this time is no different. Hughes will be highly motivated to stop Roberto Mancini from accomplishing something that he could not.
Sitting just two points above the relegation line, Rangers want to win to remain in the Premier League for next season. On November 5th, QPR valiantly hung in against City, falling just 3-2 on their home pitch at Loftus Road. They know they’ll have to play above that level if they want to upset Manchester City at Etihad Stadium.
Manchester United meanwhile, knows that unless they have 10 or more goals in them, surpassing City likely won’t happen. If both teams win, United would have to outscore City’s final talley by 9. If QPR manages to tie City, all United has to do is win at Sunderland. That task in itself, may be a tall one. Sunderland is no push over, and Sir Alex Ferguson knows that his team will have to play better than they have lately to earn a final 3 points.
The last weekend of Premier League play will be one for the ages. With Champions League spots up for grabs and teams fighting to avoid relegation, there is a lot to play for. Seemingly every fixture will impact the final table. Win, lose or draw, this will be a defining moment in the history of Manchester City soccer. If they win, 44 years of frustration will explode into a ruckus celebration. If they lose or tie, it will go down as just another City failure. Sunday cannot get here fast enough.