By Mark Duckworth of The National Game
This weekend has been 36 games in the making but by the time Manchester and Sunderland have finished their Sunday afternoon encounter we could have new Premier League Champions. Mark Duckworth takes a look at the two games which could decide the Premier League Crown.
When Chelsea came away from Old Trafford everybody thought the title race was up, everybody that is except Sir Alex. And after a few eventful weeks in the Premier League it has come down to possible this weekend and two away fixtures for Chelsea and Manchester United.
Two weeks ago Chelsea were humbled at White Hart Lane and as John Terry was sent to the stands, the general feeling was that so had their title hopes, but with a seven-nil hammering of Stoke Chelsea are once again title favourites. And if Chelsea can beat Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, followed by a Manchester United loss to Sunderland then Chelsea would be crowned Champions, but there is plenty of football still to be played before then.
Apart from Chelsea’s win at Old Trafford a few weeks ago, their away form in the Premier League hasn’t been great. They have suffered at the hands of Everton and Tottenham and also surrendered a one-nil lead away at Blackburn. And when Ancelotti’s men walk out at that famous Anfield entrance he will be wondering which Chelsea have turn up. If it is the Chelsea that battered Stoke a week ago then Liverpool may find it tough to cope with the pace and power Drogba and co. will bring, but if it is the side that turned up against Tottenham and got outworked, outplayed and overpowered then the title could go down to the last day. A lot has been made of which Liverpool will turn up; well I think a professional Liverpool will turn up that will want to end on a high in front of a set of fans which have had a hard season on and off the pitch. And that could be Chelsea’s downfall thinking too much about Liverpool and Sunderland and not about themselves. The title is in their hands but if they lose concentration then they could easily lose the advantage.
Manchester United are used to being in control of their own destiny, but come Sunday evening and a defeat against a former United old boy, and Sir Alex will have to let go of the Premier League for this season. But if United win at the Stadium Of Light and Liverpool draw or (even better) beat Chelsea then United will once again have control. Unlike Chelsea, United managed to beat Spurs over the weekend and with the ever improving Nani, I think United will beat Sunderland. In similar contrast, Steve Bruce has come under some questioning over his team selection. Just like Liverpool, I expect Sunderland to be as professional as ever, there is also the small matter of an estimated five million pound difference for finishing in the top ten and that could be crucial for a club of Sunderland’s size.
Sir Alex has seen it all before, but come Sunday once all the mind games have stopped and the sides have been selected, he will be like the rest of us; a nervous supporter on the edge of our seat, as the Premier League could come to a dramatic conclusion.
Mike Duckworth is the lead sports writer for TheNationalGame.com. He is appearing on The Soccer Guys as a guest columnist. The National Game can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions for The Soccer Guys you can contact Kevin Koczwara at email@example.com