Liverpool will have to make Premier League history on Sunday if they are to overhaul leaders Manchester City and end their 29-year title drought on a dramatic final day of a thrilling title race.
It is the eighth duel for the Premier League crown to go down to the last round of fixtures, but Liverpool would be the first team to move above the leaders on the final day if Jurgen Klopp’s men get their hands on the trophy.
Pep Guardiola’s City are firm favourites to retain the title as they travel to lowly Brighton with a one-point lead over second placed Liverpool, who face Wolves at Anfield.
The last team to start the final day in first place and not win the title were Liverpool in 1989, when Arsenal’s 2-0 win at Anfield clinched the old First Division.
Whoever gets their hands on the silverware will have earned it the hard way after phenomenal campaigns from both clubs.
City, on 95 points, have won their past 13 Premier League matches to wipe out a seven-point lead for Liverpool and are on the brink of becoming the first team to win successive titles since Manchester United in 2009.
Klopp’s men, with 94 points, have recovered from a mid-season stumble to record eight straight victories and are agonisingly close to their first English top-flight title since 1990.
The 18-time league winners face the scarcely credible scenario of ending the season with the third-highest points tally in Premier League history and a single defeat yet still missing out on the title.
City look almost certain to finish off the job on the south coast and Guardiola admits he has so much faith in his players that he might not even give a pre-match team-talk at the Amex Stadium.
“I don’t have to say anything to motivate them. I think my speech on Sunday will be zero,” he said.
“They want to win the Premier League. From what I saw in the training sessions, they want to win it, knowing that we can lose it.
“We saw in the Champions League in the last week why this game is amazing. But we want to win. So we are going to go out there at Brighton to try to win the game.”
City cannot quite match the record 100 points they mustered last season but they have shown their ability to dig deep in recent weeks.
Guardiola’s side have been free-scoring for the majority of the campaign, racking up 91 goals, but three of their past four wins have been 1-0 victories.
A second consecutive title for the club, who remain on course for a historic domestic treble, would underline their status as the dominant force in the English game.
– ‘It’s not in our hands’ –
Klopp will have to re-focus his players’ minds on their clash with Wolves at Anfield after their Champions League semi-final heroics against Barcelona as they cling to the hope that City will slip up.
“We think about Wolves now,” said Klopp, who has not won a major trophy since 2012.
“It was for sure one of the best moments in football history, not only Liverpool. But it has nothing to do with the weekend except that we should be confident.”
The Liverpool narrative has changed dramatically since they overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit against the Spanish champions to reach the Champions League final 4-3 on aggregate on Tuesday.
They now know that even if they fall short they have the chance to become champions of Europe for a sixth time if they can get past Tottenham in Madrid on June 1.
The Anfield faithful are desperate to see their team at the top of the domestic tree again, but regardless of whether Liverpool finish the weekend on top, Klopp insists he is happy with his team’s progress.
“Sunday is our last Premier League game. If we can win it, it’s not in our hands what we get, but it doesn’t make our season a little bit less good. It’s just a different finish,” he said.
Behind the runaway front two, all the issues in the Premier League are virtually done and dusted.
Barring a spectacular swing in goal difference, Tottenham will finish above Arsenal and mathematically seal the remaining Champions League spot alongside Chelsea, while the highest Manchester United can finish is fifth.
Wolves, in seventh place, cannot be caught and will earn a Europa League spot provided Watford do not beat City in the FA Cup final.
Sunday (1400 GMT)
Brighton v Manchester City, Burnley v Arsenal, Crystal Palace v Bournemouth, Fulham v Newcastle, Leicester v Chelsea, Liverpool v Wolves, Manchester United v Cardiff, Southampton v Huddersfield, Tottenham v Everton, Watford v West Ham
Adeleke Wins As Court Strikes Out Ineligibility Suit
Justice Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday struck out a suit seeking nullification of submission of name of Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke as the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in the recent July 16 election.
The judge struck down the suit on the ground that the plaintiff lacked locus standi to institute the case.
The plaintiff in the suit, Awoyemi Oluwatayo Lukman had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission, PDP and Adeleke before the court seeking order to void and set aside the submission of Adeleke’s name to INEC on ground of alleged unlawful action.
The grouse of the plaintiff was that Adeleke’s name was hurriedly submitted by PDP on March 11 as against between March 14 to 18 as contained in the INEC guidelines.
Adeleke’s name having not been submitted within the period fixed by INEC, the plaintiff asked the court to declare the submission, illegal, unlawful, null and void and be set aside.
He claimed that INEC must be bound by its official guidelines and that anything done outside the guidelines is against the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
However, in his judgment, Justice Obiora Egwuatu struck out the suit on the ground that the said Awoyemi Oluwatayo Lukman lacked locus standi to have instituted the case.
Falconets Beat Canada 3-1, Set to Meet Holland in Quarter Final
Nigeria’s U-20 girls, Falconets, set a World Cup group stage perfect record for themselves after beating Canada 3-1 in Alajuela on Thursday morning to finish with a perfect nine points out of nine in Group C.
Head Coach, Chris Musa, said before the encounter that his girls would seek to win even as a quarter-final ticket was already in the bag, in order to sustain their winning mentality following hard-fought victories over France and Korea Republic.
That was exactly what the Falconets did.
Africa’s best team conceded their first goal of the competition in an accidental manner, following goalkeeper Omini Oyono’s poor management of a backpass from Jumoke Alani that granted Kala Novak a fortuitous goal in less than two minutes.
“It was great for us to come back from that setback, and also conceding first in the tournament. We showed character and spirit, and that would be huge for us going forward in the competition,” Musa said after the match.
Midfield impresario Esther Onyenezide, whose vicious curling shot earned all three points against Korea Republic to send the Falconets into the last eight on Monday morning, scored from the penalty spot in the 24th minute to pull the Falconets level. Defender Mia Pante had handled the ball from a Blessing Okpe shot in the box.
The Falconets looked composed and surefooted in the middle with the return of Deborah Abiodun, who sat out the encounter with the Koreans, and Chiamaka Okwuchukwu also played an inspired game after starting for the first time in the tournament. Her firm header from a Blessing Okpe cross in the 15th minute missed narrowly.
Onyenezide shot Nigeria ahead, also from the spot, in the 32nd minute minute, after Simi Awujo’s dangerous play against Mercy Idoko, as the latter went for a header from Rofiat Imuran’s inswinger, was penalised.
In the added time of first period, Idoko came close to scoring her first goal of the tournament, but her touch from another Imuran inswinger kissed the upright.
In the second half, the Falconets added pace and brilliant use of space to their game, and it was no surprise when Imuran, again with a visionary cross, set up substitute Chioma Olise for Nigeria’s third goal.
Their imperial campaign in the group stage earns the Falconets a quarter-final date with the Netherlands in Alajuela as from 1am on Monday (Nigeria time).
Supporters Throng Obasanjo’s Residence As Tinubu Visits Former President
Scores of supporters of the All Progressives Congress in Ogun State, Wednesday, stormed the residence of former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, in Abeokuta as the presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu visited the former President.
Tinubu arrived at the Penthouse of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Oke- Mosan, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, in his chopper at about 1:09pm in company of some party leaders.
He was received by Governor Dapo Abiodun, former Governor Gbenga Daniel, his predecessor, Segun Osoba, and other Ogun State government functionaries.
They have all gone into a meeting with the president.
The meeting was believed to be in connection with ambition of Tinubu in the coming elections.
Our correspondent reports that the duo had not been seen together since 2015 when he escorted the then APC candidate, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to Obasanjo’s residence.
He was also at the 78th birthday of the former President held at Abeokuta in March, 2015.
The two of them have since kept their distances as Obasanjo withdrew his support for Buhari and the APC, which he supported to power by tearing his card as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party.