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History favours Man City as title race goes to wire

ARSENAL have at least taken the Premier League title race to the final day of the season but the omens are not good for Mikel Arteta’s team if they are to stop Manchester City from making history.

City’s nervy 2-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday, their eighth league victory in a row, means they arrive at the final day of the campaign with a two-point lead over Arsenal.

Victory over West Ham United would seal a fourth successive title for Pep Guardiola’s side — an unprecedented feat in English football.

Arsenal, who have barely put a foot wrong since the turn of the year, host Everton needing a win and a huge favour from West Ham if they are to claim their first title for 20 years.

It is a far cry from last season when Arsenal collapsed under City’s relentless charge in the closing weeks and they won the title by five points having wrapped it up well before the finale.

Arsenal will live in hope, but City are in familiar territory and are masters at closing the deal.

Nine times has the Premier League title race gone to the final day with City involved in the last four, each time being crowned champions. No team starting the final day below first place has won the title.

City beat West Ham 2-0 at home in 2014 to seal the title under Manuel Pellegrini but it has not always been that straightforward. In 2012, they needed Sergio Aguero’s stoppage time goal to claim a 3-2 win over Queen’s Park Rangers and deny Manchester United — a moment etched in English soccer folklore.

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Then in 2022 they trailed Aston Villa 2-0 at home on the final day but hit back with three goals in six minutes to make Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers academic.

“By no stretch of the imagination is this won,” Kyle Walker, who was made captain this season after Kevin de Bruyne’s injury problems, told the club’s website.

“Could there be another twist or turn-in? Who knows? Until the final whistle has gone against West Ham, that’s when I will visualise hopefully walking up to get the trophy.

“I’m excited. Obviously, there are nerves, but nerves are good when it comes to these pressure moments.”

DE BRUYNE DOUBT

City will hope De Bruyne recovers from the ankle problem he sustained at Tottenham while goalkeeper Ederson is a doubt after suffering a head injury.

Arsenal will hold out a little more hope as their goal difference is better than City’s, meaning should they beat Everton and City draw, the London side would take the title.

There are other issues to be sorted out on Sunday.

Aston Villa, who are at Crystal Palace, have sewn up fourth place and qualification for the Champions League but fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur need a point at relegated Sheffield United to be certain of fifth and Europa League football.

Defeat for Tottenham could see fast-finishing Chelsea come fifth if they beat Bournemouth at home.

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Sixth-placed Chelsea are three points above Newcastle United who end travel to Brentford and with sixth place potentially good enough for the Europa League, should Manchester City win the FA Cup, there is still plenty to play for in terms of European spots.

Eighth-placed Manchester United could grab a European place via the league if they win at Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle drop points at Brentford.

At the bottom, the relegation places are virtually decided with 18th-placed Luton needing to beat Fulham, hope Nottingham Forest lose to relegated Burnley and overturn a 12-goal deficit in goal difference to retain their place in the top flight.

By MARTYN HERMAN

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