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Butler: Odds favour City but sentiment in Liverpool's corner

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Noel Butler
5/9/2014 7:17:05 PM
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Leaking goals and tears in similar amounts - nobody who witnessed the scenes from Selhurst Park Monday could not have a sense of sympathy for Liverpool as the title slipped from their grasp.

Their misery completed 24-hours later as the Etihad was reminded yet again why, for many, Yaya Toure and not Luis Suarez is the player of the year this season.

Falling at a final fence is a BPL curse which has quivered the bottom lip of even Sir Alex Ferguson previously. Most famously, 2 years ago when added time heroics ensured the name Manchester City was etched onto the famous trophy for a first time. 

With just West Ham standing in the way, Manchester City appear the overwhelming favourites of securing a second title in three years.

Not so fast. West Ham has gatecrashed a BPL parade previously.

Before the top tier of English football turned into the global juggernaut it has now become, a bus parked by West Ham in the final match of the 1994/95 season denied Manchester United the title as the teams played out a 1-1 draw. 

With United denied the win, it was Blackburn managed by Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish who won the league. Even after they suffered defeat at the hands of his old club on the final day of the season.

After waking up this morning to the headlines he would be fired, West Ham's much maligned Sam Allardyce, who just a few weeks ago witnessed his own fans turn on him following their win over Hull, will be chomping at the bit to prove his naysayers wrong and end the season on a winning note.

It's not like West Ham has not got form this season when it comes to destroying the plans of top clubs. Jose Mourinho branding their football as '19th Century' following a dire Stamford Bridge stalemate back in January.

With the relegation places all decided and handed out to teams who believed a managerial change was needed to inject survival into their BPL life, all attention Sunday will be on the Etihad and Anfield.

Brendan Rogers put his best brave face on earlier today at his pre-match press conference when he emphatically stated the title race was not over. With not a hint of irony on his face, Rodgers singled out Andy Carroll, a player he immediately discarded after taking over at Anfield in summer 2013, as Manchester City's destroyer. 

It's not known if it was Rodgers who addressed the Liverpool dressing room in the aftermath of the Selhurst Park devastation. It may well have been Dr. Steven Peters the renowned psychiatrist who Steven Gerrard credited recently as saving his career following an injury the Liverpool captain suffered in 2010.

Drafted in by Roy Hodgson as part of England's backroom staff for the World Cup, Peters has been working with Liverpool since last fall. He is widely credited with the rehabilitation and rejuvenation of Luis Suarez this season.

Stevens' theory holds that the secret to success is in effective management of our "Inner Chimp" - that emotive part of the brain which affects our ability to make rational choices and decisions.

Manuel Pellegrini likely didn't have full control of his inner chimp when he proclaimed shortly after Wednesday's Aston Villa triumph, "Of course I expect to win the title because now we are top of the table."

Being top of the table has been a poisoned chalice all season long. Manchester City leapfrogging Liverpool was the 25th such change at the top since opening day last August. 

Arsenal has spent the longest period on top, followed by Chelsea, then Liverpool. Manchester City has spent less than two weeks at the BPL summit. Remarkably, if just for 48-hours, even David Moyes experienced top-spot euphoria.

As Liverpool still has a remote chance of been crowned champions come noon hour on the east coast Sunday, very early in the morning the Premier League trophy will arrive at Anfield. En route it is not likely going to drive past the homes of Luis Suarez or Steven Gerrard.

Much folly and merriment has been made of Gerrard's slip allowing for Demba Ba to score Chelsea's opener a fortnight ago. Video and images of which, could shadow and stalk the Liverpool captain the remainder of his playing days and after.

With the curtain about to come down on a season which has had more twists and turns than a John La Carré best seller - there is no player more deserving of a winner's medal than Gerrard.

Even Ferguson, who we learned earlier in the season had less than complimentary words for Gerrard in his autobiography, will likely be cheering for Liverpool under his breath and that a quiet hush comes over his old noisy neighbour Sunday.

Noel.Butler@BellMedia.ca
@TheSoccerNoel
On Sunday, beginning with a pre-game show on TSN 2 at 9:30am et / 6:30am pt TSN, TSN Radio and TSN.ca has you fully covered for the exciting BPL season finale.

Steven Gerrard Luis Suarez (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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