The Premier League title race is still going on

When Manchester City thrashed the Wolverhampton Wanderers 5-1 in the middle of the week, it seemed to me that the Premier League title race was over. An away match against a tough Wolves team seemed to be the last possible place to reduce City’s points and get Liverpool back in the mix. But penciling an easy win for City the rest of the way, I overlooked West Ham, and on Sunday the Hammers proved once again why all those who have devalued them this season have been fooled.

Jared Bowen scored twice to give West Ham an early 2-0 lead, and although the team did its best to get the full advantage back, the hosts were able to draw City 2-2 without the fall of Liverpool. Against Southampton on Tuesday, this wild Premier League race will end on the last day of the season.

There was a lot of play at the London Stadium before that final whistle on 2-2. West Ham are still playing for a place in the Europa League; The Hammers would need some help to jump to Manchester United on the day of the final, but they did what they had to do to keep pace. Manchester City are such a terrible enemy in the Premier League, but West Ham have come out swinging.

Bowen, often West Ham’s best player this season, was great for finishing his two chances. At first, he did a wonderful and surprisingly acrobatic with the ball of Pablo Fornals, one-on-one with Ederson, crossing City’s backline. Bowen easily scores a goal for the defender, before heading the ball over the goal for a 1-0 lead:

Just 21 minutes before halftime, Bowen went on to double that advantage. After crossing the City backline again, Bowen went to the top of the box and fired a shot past Fernandinho’s leg and Ederson’s side:

A 2-0 halftime lead is as good as a win against most teams, even against Manchester City most days: 52 times City have trailed by two goals in half, and they have lost 51 times. Still, Citi works after the break, determined to save at least one point to maintain his slim lead in the title race.

Jack Grellis’ first season was mostly disappointing after leaving Aston Villa, but he fought hard against West Ham, hitting a volley to the ground with Craig Dawson and giving Lukasz Fabianski just three minutes after halftime:

City equalizer is also available from a West Ham player: from Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick cross, Hammers defender Vladimir Cowfal’s weak effort in the header clearance finds the corner of his own net. Suddenly, City had an equal scoreline and still had 20 minutes to snatch that would probably serve as three points to win the league at least:

And it looked like City would do just that. In the final minutes of regular time, Dawson drops Gabriel Jesus into the box, which could be a game-winning and penalty-winning penalty. Instead, however, Fabianski read Mahrez’s method correctly and saved the effort by keeping the score at 2-2, where it was:

City are now just four points ahead in the Premier League. In Tuesday’s match against Southampton, Liverpool will have a chance to reduce it to just one point. If the Pool Boys win there, it will set up an almost perfect championship on Sunday.

Winning another penalty shootout cup final against Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Saturday to end the domestic treble for Liverpool, the Reds must beat the Wolves on the final day and then hopefully Aston Villa will take the points away from Manchester City, to Manchester. Did the manager give the responsibility of orchestrating the fall of Man City on the final day? No one else is Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard. Even without anything specific to play for themselves, Gerard and the villains will surely rejoice at the opportunity to play their spoiler.

City’s job is as clear as the 2018-19 final Premier League title race: losing to a low-table team and claiming glory. Anything less than that would return the advantage to Liverpool, if Liverpool finished its assignment on Tuesday. With two games left for each title contender, the Topsy Turvy season – in which both sides look like a sure bet to win the league at different points – will come down on the last day. West Ham have played their part in keeping the play bubbling and now Liverpool’s historic four-time trophy season hopes to fight Manchester City’s omnipotent domestic dominance. There is no better, or better, way to do this season.

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