In recent weeks it seemed almost certain that the league trophy would be heading to Anfield for the first time in 24 years.
You can imagine how it would have played out, can’t you?
The fireworks, the chorus of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, and the teary-eyed Liverpudlians clapping, singing, chanting and crying in unison as Steven Gerrard lifted the Premier League trophy above his head with a an enormous roar, feeling like he’d accomplished all there is to accomplish in club football.
But now it’s inconceivable to think that the Premier League will end up anywhere other than in Manchester. The blue half of Manchester, of course.
Manchester City’s nervy 3-2 win over Everton at Goodison Park catapulted Manuel Pellegrini’s men to the top of the Premier League table with just two games remaining.
City have leapfrogged Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool into first place, and, barring an incredible result in either of their last two fixtures – at home against Aston Villa and West Ham – they look certain to stay there and, in doing so, lift the title for the second time in three seasons.
City have occupied top spot for just nine evenings during this weird and wonderful Premier League campaign, but their tally will now hit double figures – at least until Liverpool take on Crystal Palace on Sunday.
It may only be on goal difference, but leading the pack at this late stage of the season will do wonders for the City players’ confidence. And it will surely have an adverse effect on those in red preparing to visit Selhurst Park.
If Steven Gerrard’s fatal slip in last week’s defeat to Chelsea wasn’t enough, City’s decisive win against Liverpool’s arch rivals Everton could well be a final nail in the coffin.
The Reds have been excellent this season – arguably the best team in the league – but their dreams of lifting that elusive Premier League trophy hinge on a 10-goal swing. And despite having two of the world’s most in-form strikers leading their line, it’s just not going to happen.
Liverpool’s hopes of winning the league faded when Gerrard slipped to let in Demba Ba last week. And their hopes raced off into the distance – almost out of sight – as Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko nudged the Citizens past Roberto Martinez’s side this weekend.
Manchester City have scored the joint-highest amount of goals this season, whilst conceding the second fewest. They’ve had to deal with a host of injuries to key players such as captain Vincent Kompany, midfield maestro David Silva and talismanic forward Sergio Aguero. They’ve also had to contend with an out-of-sorts No. 1, as Joe Hart struggled for form earlier in the campaign.
But, despite these factors that could have derailed their season, they have hit form when it was needed most, picked up wins when defeat wasn’t an option and now lead the race with only two games to go.
The title is City’s, and you can bet that this will be the first of many in the Pellegrini era.
Joshua Hayward - on Twitter @JoshuaHayward99
- Sports & Recreation
- the Premier League
- Steven Gerrard
- Manchester City
- Manuel Pellegrini