LONDON: Manchester City will be bidding to be crowned champions of England for the first time in 44 years when they face relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers at Eastlands later Sunday.
But with second-placed champions Manchester United behind on goal difference alone, Roberto Mancini’s expensively-assembled City side will be aware any slip-ups could see Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, away to Sunderland, pip them at the post.
Meanwhile, places in the lucrative Champions League remain up for grabs, even if the Manchester duo have already snaffled the top two Premier League spots.
Arsenal will guarantee themselves automatic qualification for the group phase if they win at West Brom, while Newcastle, away to Everton, will hope Tottenham stumble at home to Fulham as they seek to leapfrog Harry Redknapp’s side into fourth place.
But fourth spot, while usually securing a place in the preliminary round, won’t be good enough for Champions League football next term if Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in this season’s final.
At the bottom, Wolves and Blackburn may have already been relegated but the identity of the third team joining them in the second-tier Championship has still to be revealed.
Bolton Wanderers will start Sunday in the drop zone. They must win at Stoke City and hope QPR are beaten by City if they are to avoid demotion.
Should City beat QPR then, barring a stunning scoreline for United at Sunderland, that should see them to a first English title since 1968.
Although none of Mancini’s men, nor indeed the Italian himself, have been associated with the club’s long history of self-inflicted wounds, the City manager understands why fans remain nervous.
Nevertheless he was confident his team would not lose their nerve against a QPR side that have won away from home just three times this season.
“I trust them 100 per cent,” said Mancini. “They know they have everything in their hands. They work hard, they fight every game for one year and in this championship that is very hard.”