It’s the final games of the 2013/14 Premier League season and Manchester City can clinch their second league title in three years with a win over West Ham United at the Etihad on Sunday afternoon.
After their 4-0 win over Aston Villa on Wednesday night, City moved two points above Liverpool at the top of the table and prompted admission from Manuel Pellegrini that he now expects his team to win Premier League title. They find themselves in a more favourable position than they were this time two years ago when they went into the last game on the same points total as Manchester United. Even a draw would realistically be enough to finish in first place this time round.
West Ham completed the double over Tottenham at home last weekend and have confirmed their Premier League safety, however they can still finish lower than 12th should they lose this game and either Swansea or Sunderland win their matches. City fans will be hoping that Andy Carroll does not have an impact on the game that could benefit Liverpool, no matter how unlikely it may seem.
Sergio Aguero missed the game against Aston Villa with a hamstring injury and it remains to be seen whether he will be fit to play against West Ham on Sunday, although we should know more when Pellegrini faces the media in his final pre-match press conference. Jesus Navas and Matija Nastasic will definitely be unavailable for selection.
Sam Allardyce will have a fully fit squad to choose from aside from Marco Borriello who is still recovering from a calf injury. It will be interesting to see how Allardyce deploys his team and whether he will be more content to sit back and absorb City pressure.
- No team who has been top of England’s top division going into the last day has been beaten to the title since Arsenal managed to climb above Liverpool in 1989.
- City have won four of their last five league games at home to West Ham and drew the other.
- They have only tasted defeat once at the hands of the Irons in the last 10 meetings overall.
- City have scored 100 goals this season, more than any other team in the league.
- Carroll has scored five goals against City in the league, more than he has managed against any other team.
- West Ham have only managed one point against the current top four sides this season.
- This will be the first time West Ham have played away from home on the last day since 2007, when they beat Manchester United 1-0.
What more can be said about Toure that hasn’t been said already? He has simply been one of the best players in the Premier League this year and was probably unlucky to finish third in the recent Football Writers’ Player of the Year award. The midfielder has scored 19 goals this season which makes him the third most prolific scorer in the league behind Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. His 26 shots on target from 48 attempts at goal have given him a 54% shooting accuracy, and this doesn’t include his impressive 100% conversion rate from the eight clear-cut chances that have come his way. Of course, as an attack minded midfielder his contribution in other areas of City’s game have been impressive as well. He has created 34 chances for his team mates and made seven assists in the process, and has been successful with 39 of the 52 dribbles he has attempted. In other words, West Ham better watch out on Sunday.
Playing in central midfield, Diame plays much more of a mix between defence and attack than his City counterpart. He has attempted 74 tackles this season and has been successful with 75.68% of them. Diame has also managed to make 26 interceptions and has only made one defensive error in 2,404 minutes he has played this season. Worryingly for West Ham however, is the midfielder has only been accurate with 67% of his 493 passes in the attacking zone of the pitch, and 68% of his 254 passes in the final third. He has managed to create 21 chances for his team mates this season but only two of these have resulted in assists for him. Diame has scored four goals of his own but there have been times this season when he has failed to take advantage of the opportunities he has given; his failure to convert any of his four clear-cut chances for example. However, City’s midfield may find it difficult to play through the middle on Sunday with Diame in their way.
As I mentioned before, no team who has been top of the league on the last day has failed to win the title since Arsenal overtook Liverpool in 1989. I, along with the vast majority of people, expect that record to continue this weekend. I think Manchester City will win 3-1 and claim their second Premier League title in three years.