Everton could hold the key to Liverpool's Premier League title hopes - and Andy Gray believes fans will not mind if they lose to Manchester City
City visit Goodison Park this weekend with the knowledge that victories in their final three matches will likely see them clinch the title
Everton could hold the key to their Merseyside rivals Liverpool’s Premier League fate when they face Manchester City this weekend, although former Toffees forward Andy Gray believes supporters may not be too displeased if their side lose a third game in four matches if it means the Reds’ finish second.
Everton are pushing to beat Arsenal to the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot, a feat they have achieved just once since the introduction of the Premier League when they were knocked out of the 2005-06 qualification stages under David Moyes.
Should they beat City at Goodison Park on Saturday evening, the title race would swing back in Liverpool’s favour, although City know that wins over Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham as well as maintaining their superior goal difference would see them crowned the 2013-14 Premier League champions.
However, Everton head into the match having suffered a costly dip in form, with defeats to Crystal Palace and Southampton sandwiching the 2-0 win over Manchester United to allow Arsenal to jump ahead of them in the table.
And Gray revealed on TALKsport that he believes Everton fans might not be too disappointed should they suffer a defeat this weekend, even if it ends their hopes of Champions League football this season.
“Peter Reid and I were talking about it last night and we think maybe Evertonians for once in their life may not be too upset if they get beat this week,” said Gray on the Alan Brazil Breakfast Show.
“The players will try and do their job the best they can but I've got a funny feeling many thousand Evertonians, for one week only, will not mind if they lose the game.
He added: “If they [Manchester City] win at Goodison, they will win the title.
“I don't think they will drop a point in their two remaining games against West Ham and Villa. I think the title rests purely on what happens at Goodison.”
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Manuel Pellegrini’s side went into their Sunday afternoon fixture at Selhurst Park knowing that Liverpool had suffered defeat to the Blues, but ensured they didn’t give-up their advantage immediately as Edin Dzeko and fit-again Yaya Toure helped them emerge with a 2-0 victory of their own over high-flying Palace.
That win means that should both City and Liverpool win their remaining fixtures, the blue half of Manchester will likely emerge with the title as they currently hold an eight-goal advantage in the goal difference between the two sides.
But if Liverpool can claw back that deficit and finish level on goal difference, they would secure a first league title since 1990 due to their far superior goals scored, with their current tally of 96 goals three more than City’s total.
Should Arsenal slip-up to Newcastle when the two meet at the Emirates tonight, Everton will trail the Gunners by just a single point and the thought of any happiness at a defeat to City would be very hard to imagine. Then again, could Evertonians put up with their rivals bragging about their title success for an entire season next year?
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