Ed Chamberlin: In City's hands
Ed Chamberlin brings us his latest take on the Barclays Premier League title race and looks ahead to another huge weekend in the top flight of English football.
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It was the weekend that turned the title race on its head. There was despair for Cardiff, Fulham and Norwich at the bottom. Elation for Sunderland. And Arsenal all but clinched a 17th successive season in the Champions League.
Super Sunday at Anfield was an incredible day. Seven and a half hours of live coverage and three live games packed full of drama. Liverpool started the day as 1/6 favourites with Sky Bet to win the Premier League title. They finished it at 5/4. By the next time they play on Monday Night Football at Crystal Palace, Liverpool could be third in the table; that sums up this crazy season.
Chelsea are back in the mix but still available at 16/1 after a performance, brilliantly dissected by Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville on Monday's show, that again showed the key requirements to win a big football match. Power, organisation, desire and ruthlessness. In the process they blew the title race wide open. Manchester City took advantage and are now 4/5 to be crowned champions.
It's in their hands with Liverpool and Chelsea now needing a favour from Everton this weekend.
The lead at the top of the table has changed hands 22 times this season and could change three times over the weekend if Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool all win due to the respective kick-off times.
Everton v Manchester City on Saturday Night Football now looks like the key game in the title race. After that City have Aston Villa and West Ham at home, and for both games they will be long odds-on to win.
Worryingly for Liverpool and Chelsea fans, Sky Bet have Everton at 10/3 to win on Saturday evening, which must be the biggest price they have been at home all season. They would be happy with a draw too which is 3/1, while Man City are odds-on at 7/10.
That must be down to the combination of doubts over Everton's motivation, the absence of Distin, Jagielka and most crucially Gareth Barry coupled with the return of City's big guns. Yaya Toure was back with a bang at Palace, Sergio Aguero is getting fitter and sharper all the time, while David Silva could also return this weekend. Ominously the core of the side is back in place and they are within touching distance of the title. Stones and Alcaraz will have their work cut out against Aguero and he is sure to be popular at 4/1 to score the first goal and evens to score any time.
Like City, Arsenal have some of their big players back, too late to play a part in the title race but they have put them on the brink of another top-four finish. On Super Sunday this week Arsenal are up against West Brom and a home win would secure Champions League football for a 17th successive season under Arsene Wenger – only Man Utd (18th this season) and Real Madrid (18th next season) have ever had longer runs of Champions League qualification. If Everton lose on Saturday evening, Arsenal will be guaranteed a top-four spot already.
West Brom will secure Premier League safety with a win and they could also secure safety even if they lose or draw if other results go their way this weekend. West Brom would be safe even if they lose, providing Cardiff and Fulham both fail to win on Saturday and Norwich lose at Chelsea on Super Sunday.
Norwich will be hoping Chelsea are suffering from the defeat against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night, which shattered their Champions League dream. Now Chelsea must focus on the Premier League but they are reliant on their rivals dropping points if they are to win their fourth Premier League title and a first since 2009-10. They would have been out of the title race if they had lost at Liverpool last Sunday. Now they have to win their last two games and hope for favours elsewhere.
Sunday's game sees the League's best home record face the worst away. The best defence against the worst attack. Chelsea have conceded a Premier League low 26 goals, while Norwich have scored only 28 goals all season. The Canaries have won only eight away points and have lost their last eight away games – defeat would confirm their longest away losing run since nine successive games under Ron Saunders in the old Division One in November 1972 to March 1973. Norwich have no chance on paper but we were saying similar things before Sunderland went to Stamford Bridge.
The final Monday Night Football of the season sees Liverpool travel to Crystal Palace. We will look back on a brilliantly unpredictable season, which may still have a few twists and turns to come.
Horse Racing: McCoy still at peak
It was an honour to be involved in the jumps season finale at Sandown last weekend. AP McCoy's 19th consecutive jockey's title has to be one of the great achievements in sport. He talked about his hunger to make that 20 next season and it was great to have him on stage with his son Archie, who had a major operation just before the Cheltenham Festival and looked in really good health on Saturday.
I also got to speak to JP McManus after he collected his champion owner's trophy. He said he thought AP was riding better than ever, ahead of turning 40 on Sunday, and thought Jonjo O'Neill had a great chance of becoming champion trainer next season. Those with a good memory will remember McCoy gave us Shutthefrontdoor as his horse to follow this season back in October in this column. Shutthefrontdoor was a brilliant winner of the Irish National and must be of interest for the Grand National at 25/1. He's in the right hands.
More immediately it's the first Classics of the season this weekend. The 2000 Guineas in particular looks a really good renewal. People have been talking about Australia for months and he'll need to be every bit as special as people seem to think he is to beat Kingman, who looked like a potential top notcher in his trial.