By Neil Leverett
- It’s crunch time for both Manchester City and Liverpool as the 2018/19 Premier League season concludes on Sunday
- Citizens need just a win to retain league crown away to Brighton & Hove Albion
- Jurgen Klopp’s men however must beat Wolves to force rivals to pick up three points on south coast
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – After nine months of fierce Premier League competition, Manchester City look to seal the league title and ward off Liverpool with a win away at Brighton on Sunday
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Game of the Week: Brighton & Hove Albion vs Manchester City (Sunday, 15:00)
It may not be the marquee fixture of the final weekend of the Premier League campaign, but with top four and relegation matters already settled, events at the AMEX Stadium take centre stage on Sunday as our Game of the Week.
Following Vincent Kompany’s stunning goal against Leicester City on Monday night, Pep Guardiola‘s Manchester City need only to beat Brighton here to retain the league crown and record a feat of becoming the first team in eleven years to hold onto the top flight crown.
The Citizens have rather limped toward the line in recent weeks with successive 1-0 wins, but have continued the bloody-mindedly get job done in terms of points. Nerves have undoubtedly set in to shroud a recently waning Blue Moon, but City know they need one more push to get over the line.
Having secured safety for another season – rather down to Cardiff City’s dwindling fortunes than the Seagulls own efforts – Chris Hughton‘s men effectively ended Arsenal’s hopes of a top four finish this weekend with a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium, so the hosts cannot be overlooked for providing final day drama.
With nothing to lose, the Seagulls are more likely to go on the front foot against their visitors but that in turn in likely to play into City’s game handsomely and provide space to play their game.
City are of course no strangers to final day drama and whilst I can see Brighton scoring here, in going on the offensive it should Guardiola for the perfect platform to get the three points. It will be a nervous afternoon no doubt for the traveling band of Citizen support, but it should end in a glorious trip back to Manchester on Sunday evening.
Prediction: Brighton 1-3 Manchester City
One to Watch: Liverpool vs Wolverhampton Wanderers (Sunday, 15:00)
That result in east Sussex should make this academic, however, it could provide a terrific encounter nonetheless as Nuno Espirito Santo takes his veritably seasoned Wolves side to Anfield to face Liverpool.
The Reds will rightly still be riding on the crest of a wave after their remarkable midweek heroics against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League, but having sealed the most unlikely of final berths against fellow exponents of drama in Spurs, one wonders now whether eyes may now switch attention to their Madrid date with destiny on June 1.
Jurgen Klopp will of course not allow such thought, but with the hosts needing high favour from the Seagulls, if City were to go up by a couple of goals early on, Liverpool might drop a gear or two in reserve for next month’s showpiece finale. With Mohamed Salah a doubt to start also with the after-effects of concussion sustained last weekend, the Merseysiders will still name a strong XI.
They may need to if they are to get the better of the visitors anyway. Wolves’ record against the top six in the Premier League is well documented, indeed the the men from the Black Country were one of the only sides to turn Liverpool over this season, in a 2-1 win at Molineux in the Emirates FA Cup in January.
The visitors have equipped themselves superbly in their first season back in the top flight, and their top seven finish does not flatter them in the slightest. Some have said – rather lazily – that Santo’s men have been on the beach for the past few weeks after their FA Cup semi-final loss to Watford. Even if that were the case, they have only earned the right to do so.
The Wolves boss has outlined his plan to deny Liverpool a win on Sunday, and even if the hosts needed a win to guarantee their first Premier League trophy they may fall short regardless. With Liverpool legs perhaps a little weary after Tuesday night, the visitors could put an end to any lingering hopes by taking a point back to the west Midlands. For the hosts, it could a case of so near and yet so far once more.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-1 Wolves
Premier League Game of the Week sees Manchester City travel to the AMEX Stadium to face Brighton on Sunday afternoon
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