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EPL Winds Down Today as Man City, Liverpool Hope for Glory

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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.

Fixtures:

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

AFP

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Travel Agent Scams Cristiano Ronaldo of £250,000, Jailed

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A travel agent, named Maria Silvia scammed Manchester United striker, Cristiano Ronaldo, out of £250,000 (about N140 million) after the football star entrusted her with his credit cards and pin.

The 53-year-old travel agent also scammed Ronaldo’s super-agent Jorge Mendes of £14,000 and Manchester United winger, Nani, of over £1,500.

Due to her wrongdoing, Silvia got a four-year suspended prison sentence on Sunday after being earlier convicted by a Porto criminal court in 2017.

It was also revealed that Ronaldo was targeted for three years between February 2007 and July 2010.

The paper read, “Afterwards the travel agent had to plug the hole in the firm’s accounts. She, therefore, began to bill those trips to Cristiano Ronaldo, who had an account at Geostar and for practical reasons, handed the agent a virtual credit card and pin code. It was a green route to taking money out.”

Quoting a renowned Portuguese daily Jornal de Noticias, Sun Sports reported that the 36-year-old Ronaldo submitted a statement to the police after flying to the court to meet up with his lawyer.

The travel agent, who currently works as a cleaner, was first interrogated in 2011 before her eventual sentence on Sunday, September 19, 2021.

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I am Getting Better, Says Hospitalised Pele

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Brazilian football legend Pele said Sunday he is “punching the air” to celebrate “every better day” after the 80-year-old suffered his latest health scare.

“As you can see, I’m punching the air in celebration of every better day,” Pele wrote on Instagram beside a photograph of him sitting in a hospital chair, watched over by two medical staff.

The three-time World Cup winner was Friday briefly transferred back to an intensive care unit at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, where he underwent surgery earlier this month, after suffering breathing difficulties.

“A good mood is the best medicine and I have plenty of that. It couldn’t be different,” he added Sunday.

“I have received so much affection that my heart is full of gratitude. Thanks to all the amazing staff at Albert Einstein Hospital!”

His condition had been described as stable.

Pele’s daughter Kely Nascimento also posted a photo of herself next to her father in the hospital on Friday, seeking to cheer up his fans.

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We Won’t Accept Second Position in 2023 – NEF

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The Northern Elders Forum has said the north was in the process of rebuilding itself and was not prepared to play second fiddle in a nation where it clearly enjoys numerical strength.

Director of Publicity and Advocacy of the NEF, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said this while delivering a keynote address at the maiden Maitama Sule Lecture Series organized by the students’ wing of the Coalition of Northern Groups, held at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, on Saturday.

He said, “We will lead Nigeria the way we have led Nigeria before whether we are President or Vice President, we will lead Nigeria. We have the majority of the votes and democracy says vote whom you want.

“Why should we accept a second class position when we know we can buy a form and contest for first class and we will win?

“Why does anybody need to threaten us and intimidate us? We will get that power but be humble because power comes from God. We inherited leadership and being honest is not being stupid.

“The North has pride; we are humble enough to know that we are going to run Nigeria with other people but we are not going to pay a second fiddle to anybody. We may not have the most robust economy, there are people who are trying to strangulate us even more than we are being strangled.

“We are ready for this. We will consider every economic adversity, challenge. We will fix the Northern economy and we are the only one who can fix this Northern economy. For that reason, we are not for sale. We are in the process of rebuilding the North and we will rebuild the North from 2023.

“Whether the North holds power in 2023 or not anybody who wants to break up in this country will say so, they are just looking for excuses. This is democracy. If they don’t like what Nigeria is, they will say they want to break up from this country, we don’t pay attention to those people, we are focused on the fact that we are running a democratic system.

The NEF’s spokesman added, “If the majority of Nigeria voters vote for a candidate from the North and he becomes the President and somebody doesn’t want to live under the Nigeria President, the person can leave.”

The Punch

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