LONDON: Liverpool’s extraordinary 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace means that Manchester City can close to within touching distance of the Premier League title by beating Aston Villa on Wednesday.
“You cannot come here against a very good side, be the threat that we were, and then defend as we did,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told the BBC. “It is criminal, really.”
Rodgers added: “There is no doubt City will go on and win it. We needed to win to keep the pressure on going into the last game and we did not do that.”
With the top two neck-and-neck on 80 points and with two games to play each, City were braced for a repeat of the 2012 campaign, when they pipped Manchester United to the title on goal difference on the final day.
However, Liverpool’s late capitulation at Selhurst Park on Monday, when they let a 3-0 lead slip in the last 11 minutes, means that City now effectively need only four points to regain the title.
Both their last matches are at home, with West Ham United following Villa to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, and with a goal difference of +59 to Liverpool’s +50, they can afford to drop two points and still finish on top.
City midfielder Samir Nasri was unable to contain his delight at Liverpool’s slip-up, tweeting shortly after the game: “What a game, what a league. I love Crystal Palace so much. Now it’s our turn to do the job.”
While both Villa and West Ham have nothing to play for this season, Yaya Toure has warned his City teammates not to take them lightly.
“Both Aston Villa and West Ham are sharp and will come to just enjoy the games but we have a league to play for,” said the Ivorian midfielder.
“I hope we complete the job, but it depends how sharp we are, how we prepare mentally and physically.
“Our target was always to win something, but for us the League Cup is not enough. The Premier League was always our target, so now we need to be at our optimum levels when Aston Villa come to our stadium on Wednesday.”
He added: “We definitely expect to win it. As a team at the top, you always expect to win.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2014.
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