On the final day of the English Premier League season Manchester City is 90 minutes and three points away from their second consecutive championship. 250 or so miles to the North, Liverpool is hoping that lowly Brighton will come up with their best effort of the year to deny victory to the top of the table team in front of their home fans. That is the big storyline on Sunday with the key games being this matchup and Liverpool’s game against Wolverhampton at Anfield.
This might not be the most lopsided matchup that Manchester City could have hoped for with the Premiership title on the line but they’ll take it. Brighton & Hole Albion is coming off a somewhat stunning draw against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium but that has more to say about the disarray among The Gunners than anything positive about their opponent. Brighton has really not been in good form at all of late, went through the entire month of April scoring only a single goal in 7 games in all competition (Pascal Gross scored at the 75 minute mark against Newcastle on April 27 or Brighton would have been shut out for the month) and hasn’t won a game since they took victory at Crystal Palace on March 9.
The news isn’t all bad for Brighton as they’ve played well enough–or more appropriately, less bad than the bottom three squads–to avoid relegation to the Football Championship. Huddersfield Town, Fulham and Cardiff City will be sent down and if things break the right way Brighton could finish as high as 16th. None of this analysis is intended to disparage the hard trying Brightoners but the fact remains that they’re competitively in another world from Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City squad.
Manchester City looked ‘tight’ and tentative at home against Leicester City last week but thanks to a Vincent Kompany goal they scraped out a 1-0 win at Etihad Stadium. That puts them in a spot where they can take a victory with any effort short of a total collapse. Manchester City has been one of the best away teams in the Premiership going 13-2-3. They’ve won 13 straight Premier League games including 6 straight away from Etihad Stadium. Their defense in their away matchups has been outstanding with only 1 goal conceded in their last six road victories. City does have a couple of potential injury issues as Kevin De Bruyne ‘could play’ according to Pep Guardiola but midfielder Fernandinho is out.
Manchester City should take this victory and wrap up a second straight English Premier League crown. Even a workmanlike effort will see that through. If there is a problem from a betting point it’s the price–it’s not possible to justify laying 2 or more goals given the fairly competitive nature of City’s wins as the season winds down. They’ve not won a Premiership game by more than two since they ripped Chelsea 6-0 on February 10. Seven of their last eleven games in all competition have been decided by a single goal. What they have done extremely well as noted above is defend away from home. We’ll bet this one accordingly.