5 things to know about the English Premier League
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The gulf between the two Manchester clubs will be highlighted when the Premier League reaches its climax Sunday, with City set to clinch the title and United likely to miss out on European qualification for the first time since 1990.
Who wins the league out of City and Liverpool, and who takes the last Europa League berth out of Tottenham and United, are two of the three outstanding issues to be resolved in the final round of matches.
The other issue is regarding which team takes the third relegation spot alongside Fulham and Cardiff — and that is almost guaranteed to be Norwich, which is three points behind West Bromwich Albion and with a far inferior goal difference.
Here are five things to know about Sunday’s Premier League finale, when all 10 matches are played at the same time:
CITY ON BRINK
Two years ago, City put its fans through the wringer on the final day of the season before clinching the title on goal difference thanks to two goals in injury time to beat Queens Park Rangers at home.
It should be more routine this time around.
City realistically needs only a point at home against 12th-place West Ham to finish at the top, as the team is two points ahead of Liverpool and holding a goal difference 13 better than its title rival.
It would require a huge meltdown for City captain Vincent Kompany not to be holding the Premier League trophy aloft for the second time in three years — City has beaten West Ham three times this season already, with their one meeting at Etihad Stadium ending 6-0.
The experience of two years ago should serve City well.
For the English championship trophy to return to Anfield for the first time in 24 years, Liverpool must beat Newcastle at home and hope for a huge favor from West Ham.
It’s unlikely, but stranger things have happened. And doesn’t Liverpool know it.
In 1989, Liverpool — at the time the biggest team in England — had to avoid losing by two goals or more to Arsenal at Anfield in the final game of the season to capture the league at the expense of the London club. In the most dramatic finish to an English league season, at least until two years ago, Arsenal scored in injury time through Michael Thomas to win 2-0.
Liverpool has to cling to some hope, although manager Brendan Rodgers doubts City will slip up and is already looking ahead to next season
“To be successful you have to be able to lose,” Rodgers said. “If you look over the years the great winners have been teams and individuals who have lost and gone on to become champions again.”
Liverpool is one goal away from reaching 100 for the season, a feat City achieved on Wednesday.
UNITED SET FOR WORST FINISH
The Europa League has proved more of a hindrance than a help for Premier League clubs, so missing out on qualifying for Europe’s second-tier competition this season might be a blessing in disguise for Man United.
United heads into Sunday three points behind Tottenham, which is at home to Aston Villa. If Spurs lose and United wins at Southampton, United will finish climb to sixth.
Interim United manager Ryan Giggs has said that the Europa League has been a target for the club since dropping out of contention for the Champions League last month.
“I think it is important you have European football at Old Trafford,” he said.
Whatever happens on Sunday, United will finish in its lowest ever position in the Premier League.
Norwich’s three-year stay in the Premier League is coming to an end.
The Canaries have three points and 17 goals to make up on West Brom on the final day, which will be beyond the wildest dreams of any Norwich fan.
Norwich is one of English football’s so-called “yo-yo clubs,” because of its habit of getting relegated and promoted so regularly.
FAREWELL FOR GIGGS?
The end of last season was awash with high-profile retirements, from Alex Ferguson to David Beckham to Paul Scholes. Not forgetting Liverpool greats Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen.
This season’s big farewell may be given to Ryan Giggs.
The 40-year-old United midfielder has not decided whether to carry on his extraordinary career into a 24th season, so the match at Southampton could be his last — should he decide to play himself.
“I’ll wait until the season has finished and then get a holiday and think about it in the next couple of weeks,” Giggs said Tuesday.