By Nicholas Spiller
In recent weeks, the race for the Premier League title has grown mad hot. Similarly, the race for fourth place and the subsequent UEFA Champions League spot has begun to burn. With only two matches left, Newcastle resides in fifth place, but are level on points with Tottenham in fourth, and only a single point from third place Arsenal.
In the title race, Manchester City sits atop the table, tied with Manchester United and leading the deciding goal differential spread by 8. And so, Sunday’s Premier League encounter between Newcastle and Manchester City should be a spectacle with very high tension. Manchester City will feel they need to win the final two games so they can claim the title on goal differential.
Newcastle has enjoyed a thrilling year, seemingly on par with all the big boys. Most recently, the Magpies enjoyed a stunning 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Papiss Cisse was the hero as his two tremendous strikes sealed a rare win over the London team. The victory basically affirmed that Chelsea will finish outside of the top four, which in turn means their Champions League fate rests on the outcome of the final in Munich.
Should Chelsea win the Champions League but not finish in England’s top four, then Chelsea would still qualify, and fourth place wouldn’t be good enough for qualification next year. Only the top three and Chelsea would earn spots.
Whatever the outcome it will be summed up after the English Premier League season has ended, and all it means for Newcastle is that they had better win and push on for third if they want to play on Europe’s biggest stage. With Papiss Cisse, Newcastle just might succeed. The Senegalese striker has netted 13 times in only 12 matches since his arrival in January. For a player to find such form that early in his Premier League career is astounding, and his recent goals over Chelsea were fantastic. This one will be considered for goal of the season:
Papiss Cisse Stunner of a Volley
The stories surrounding Manchester City’s strike force have not been quite as appealing, with players like Mario Balotelli banished to the bench, and Carlos Tevez frustrating everyone involved with the club. However, the bright news is that Carlos Tevez has been hot since returning to the squad in April. He had a goal against West Bromwich and a hat trick against Norwich City. Linking up with fellow Argentinean, Sergio Aguero, this squad easily has the talent to lift the trophy.
Manchester City also firmly displayed grit in their 1-0 win over Manchester United, which has put them in pole position to win the league. The stars have aligned for St. James’ Park to be the center of everyone’s attention on Sunday.
In a match with so much consequence for each team, they both absolutely have to win. This will be a delight for the neutral observer, and a 90 minute period of terror for the fans of these clubs. It should be worth a look.
Prediction: Cisse, in his current form, will be good for a goal to keep the
Nicholas Spiller is a freelance soccer writer and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.