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regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

Sunday suspense: Who will have the last laugh  

Manchester City are two points ahead of Arsenal heading into Sunday’s final round of fixtures

Our Bureau, Reuters Published 19.05.24, 10:23 AM
Manchester City’s Jack Grealish in a jovial mood ahead of the big day.

Manchester City’s Jack Grealish in a jovial mood ahead of the big day. Manchester City

Identical Premier League trophies will be kept both at the Etihad and Emirates Stadiums on Sunday. That’s how it is on the final day of the season, which promises a nail-biting blockbuster finish, no matter which way the fortunes swing.

Manchester City are two points ahead of Arsenal heading into Sunday’s final round of fixtures. Pep Guardiola’s side can secure their fourth Premier League title on the trot, a record, if they beat West Ham United at home, the Eithad Stadium.

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Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta X

But if they slip, the Gunners will have the party at the Emirates, provided they win against Everton. Even a City draw could be enough for Arsenal once they win because Mikel Arteta’s boys have a superior goal difference.

Both Guardiola and Arteta know it’s going to be a tense finish.

The City boss said he expects it to be as thrilling as the final day of the 2021-22 campaign, when his club nearly lost the title before late goals secured the trophy. Arteta, on the other hand, is adamant and has urged his team to not give up till the final whistle. Anything is possible, he believes, as Arsenal dream of winning their first league title in 20 years.

City had pipped Liverpool to the title by one point in May 2022, but Guardiola’s side made things difficult for themselves when they went 2-0 down to Aston Villa at home before they eventually won 3-2.

“I have the feeling it will be (like the) Aston Villa (game) again. We would like to be 3-0 up after 10 minutes, but it’s not going to happen. I’ve seen enough (of West Ham’s matches),” Guardiola told reporters.

“I’m ready for it to be a tough, tough game. I want to put in the minds of my players, ‘Look at Tottenham, how they fight for every ball, the aggression they had.’ The 11 players of West Ham will be ready to beat us. Ourselves and our people have to be ready from the first minute, to be with us and do it together.”

Arteta too believes that West Ham will give City a tough time. Arteta had played under current West Ham manager David Moyes at Everton. He will need a favour from his old boss.

“He could help us to fulfil our dream and my personal dream to win the Premier League. That would be unbelievable and always be in my memory,” Arteta was quoted as saying by arsenal.com.

“It’s really difficult to beat any opponent in the Premier League and when something is at stake as well, that task becomes more difficult. That’s not in our control, that’s for sure. We all know that they (City) are a little bit closer... But they’re going to play a really tough opponent. We have suffered this season (against West Ham)... it is really tough to beat them. I’m sure they’re going to be very at it and hopefully they can help us to achieve our dream,” a hopeful Arteta said.

Arsenal ran out of steam last season to finish in second place, but Guardiola does not expect the north London side to slip up when they face Everton at home.

“At that moment, the destiny is in our hands. But if you are waiting for them to drop points again, you are wrong,” Guardiola said.

Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard has urged his teammates to not let their emotions get the better of them on the big day. “We have to focus on ourselves, we can’t get too emotional about it... Our task is clear, we have to win that.”

The task is clear, the outcome is not. Will City rule? Or is there a twist in the tale?

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