|Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe|
Is the Premier League finally heading to East Manchester?
By Aaron Leggott
To say being a City fan these past few decades has been tough would be an understatement. After our infamous League Cup victory way back in 1976, there were signs of cobwebs starting to appear in our trophy cabinet. That was until Yaya Toure secured the FA Cup at Wembley against Stoke last season, and it seems that the Ivorian giant has done it again to clinch the Premier League for the Blues barring a miracle.
Irony is a term thrown around a lot nowadays, but there was no better place to use it than at St James' Park today, as the team created under the leadership of Roberto Mancini went one step closer to completing the ultimate comeback, in the same city where our previous top division Championship was clinched 44 years ago.
After a 1-0 defeat at the Emirates way back on Easter Sunday, it looked like our title hopes had all but vanished as United stretched the lead to eight points, thanks to a 1-0 victory over QPR. The media had it down as United's 20th league title, with bookmakers Betfred even going as far as paying out for United winning the league.
However, like in 1998, it seems that Fred Done has made another mistake as City go into the final day next weekend as huge favourites to lift their first ever Premier League trophy. Points dropped against Wigan, Everton and most importantly, City on Monday night, has meant United have well and truly given City the initiative to become the first team to turn around eight points in six games in Premier League history.
With two games remaining, City needed to realistically win both games, and first up was a trip to high flying Newcastle United, who had ambitions of their own, going into the game only two points behind Arsenal in third with a game in hand. Champions League qualification was a real possibility for the Geordies, and with Papiss Cisse in their team, anything was possible.
It was Newcastle who started off more adventurously, backed by 50,000 fan's of the black and white persuasion. But City, who were unchanged from Monday night, soon got into their stride and it wasn't long before Tim Krul was being tested in the Newcastle goal. There was a determination in the Newcastle defence during the first half as they consistently frustrated the City front line.
Shots from Samir Nasri and Toure were blocked in quick succession before Krul was called into action in the first half an hour, making fine saves from David Silva's and Sergio Aguero's efforts.
But with Newcastle needing a win as well, it was no surprise that they eventually tested Joe Hart, and a Hatem Ben Arfa shot was palmed away well by Hart after Pablo Zabaleta gave the ball away on the half way line.
With the teams expected to go in level at half time, there was a moment of panic in Newcastle's back line as Silva's pull back found Gareth Barry on the edge of area. Fortunately for the home side, heroic blocks from Fabricio Coloccini and Davide Santon ensured Krul was not to be beaten before half time.
City kept pushing after the break, but clear cut chances were hard to come by as Newcastle defended well, whilst also giving the Blues plenty to think about as Ba and Cisse reached the final third.
|One step closer: Yaya opens the scoring for City|
Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe
With the possibilities of a goal looking more and more unlikely, Mancini made a big decision as Nigel de Jong replaced Nasri with half an hour to go. Yaya Toure pushed forward, and we saw the results almost immediately.
With 70 minutes on the clock, Edin Dzeko replaced Carlos Tevez and within seconds, both the Bosnian and de Jong were involved in Toure's goal which pushed City that one step closer to the Premier League title. Toure's neat one-two with Aguero on the edge of the box opened up some space and Toure, from 25 yards out, basically passed the ball into the back of the net, giving Krul no chance.
It should have been game over five minutes later, but Aguero couldn't finish the game off after Silva delivered an exquisite pass over the Newcastle defence.
Newcastle, as expected, tried to grab an equaliser and had it not been for Micah Richards and his supreme block on Shola Ameobi's block with minutes to go, it might have been a different story.
However, from the resulting corner, City did what they do best, as Aguero led a counter attack to win the game in the final stages. His cross field pass to found de Jong, whose neat pass to Clichy eventually found it's way to Yaya Toure, who from yards away wasn't going to miss and he ensured the victory for the Blues.