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Monday 28 April 2014

Title race will go to final day, insists Pellegrini

Rivals to be champions have it all to play for after a thrilling weekend in the Barclays Premier League

  • Edin Dzeko scored an early goal for Manchester City against Crystal Palace

  • Demba Ba scores Chelsea's first goal at Anfield

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists the race to win this season's Barclays Premier League title is still wide open after another dramatic weekend of action.

With leaders Liverpool suffering a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of second-placed Chelsea, City made sure their championship destiny is in their own hands after they overcame Crystal Palace 2-0.

It leaves the title race delicately poised with only two weekends of the season remaining. Liverpool lead the table by two points from Chelsea, the pair having played 36 matches, with City in third, three points behind but with a match in hand and with a superior goal difference to the Reds.

"There are no favourites to win the title"
Manuel Pellegrini

"The only thing that is different is that we are not depending on other teams and what matters is only what we do between now and the end of the season," said Pellegrini, after goals from Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure gave City victory at Selhurst Park.

"I was obviously very happy with Chelsea's win, but this is far from the end of the title race because all three teams have very hard games still to play and as I said at the start of the season, I believe the championship will be decided on the last day of the season.

"What we do know is that we need to play our remaining games with the same levels of concentration and intensity as we showed today in our final matches - but it has been a very good weekend for us.

"I always said this season's race would go until the final day and nothing will change my mind. We have one game in hand, but we must win that match – the best thing to come out of this round of games is that our destiny was out of our hands, but that's not the case anymore. There are no favourites to win the title and at the end of the season we will see who the best team is."

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, maintained his side have "no chance" of winning their fourth Barclays Premier League title despite the victory at Anfield, sealed with goals from Demba Ba and Willian.

"We can say we won both matches against the champions"
Jose Mourinho

Despite the home side dominating possession, Mourinho's team produced a disciplined and tactically astute display to end Liverpool's run of 11 straight League victories.

"We have no chance," said Mourinho. "We were waiting for this match to be the title match, we were speaking about that for a long time, but for some reason this match didn't become the title match.

"Today was three important points. We need one more to finish third, and if we finish third we are in the Champions League automatically.

"The champion is only one team so we don't want a trophy for finishing third, but we can say we won both matches against the champions. We won both matches against Liverpool and both matches against Man City so it doesn't matter which one is the champion, we won both matches against them."

The weekend's results also had a big impact at the bottom of the table, with Sunderland moving out of the relegation zone with a comprehensive 4-0 win over fellow strugglers Cardiff City.

"I'm not getting carried away, but seven points from the last three games is incredible"
Gus Poyet

The Black Cats are now in 17th place, level on points with 18th-placed Norwich City, with a match in hand, after enjoying an impressive run that has seen them draw with Manchester City and beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Connor Wickham scored twice at the Stadium of Light against Cardiff City, with Fabio Borini and Emanuele Giaccherini adding the other goals.

"I'm not getting carried away, but seven points from the last three games is incredible," said Poyet. "I think the connection between the fans and the players in the first 20 minutes was incredible and that helped us.

"We’ve been talking for some time about how we needed something to happen and that time has come today. I think we need to win a couple of games to be really safe, but the idea is everyone is believing and not just the group.

"Of course we have had plenty of setbacks and now it is the other way around and we are taking advantage of little breaks and are on a bit of a run."

How things stand

Title run-in
    P GD Pts Run-in
1 Liverpool 36 +50 80 CRY (a), NEW (h)
2 Chelsea 36 +43 78 NOR (a), CAR (a)
3 Man City 35 +58 77 EVE (a), AVL (h), WHU (h)

 

RELEGATION RUN-IN
    P GD Pts Run-in
13 Hull City 35 -9 37 AVL (a), MUN (a), EVE (h)
14 West Ham 36 -11 36 TOT (h), MCI (a)
15 West Brom 35 -12 36 ARS (a), SUN (a), STK (h)
16 Aston Villa 35 -17 35 HUL (h), MCI (a), TOT (a)
17 Sunderland 35 -20 32 MUN (a), WBA (h), SWA (h)
18 Norwich 36 -33 32 CHE (a), ARS (h)
19 Fulham 36 -42 31 STK (a), CRY (h)
20 Cardiff 36 -38 30 NEW (a), CHE (h)

 

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