London (AFP) – Manchester City will be crowned Premier League champions if their arch rivals Manchester United lose at Aston Villa on Sunday, while Brighton blew a chance to secure their survival in a dramatic 2-1 defeat at Wolves.
Pep Guardiola’s side missed a chance to seal the title when they lost 2-1 against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, but Marcos Alonso’s late winner will only temporarily delay their celebrations.
City are 13 points clear of second placed United, who have five games left including their trip to Villa Park.
United play three times over the coming week — against Villa, Leicester and Liverpool — and a defeat in any of those matches would seal the title for City before the leaders next play at Newcastle on Friday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side would love to keep City waiting for the title as long as possible.
The Europa League finalists also want to wrap up a second place finish, which would be their highest end of season position in the Premier League since Solskjaer took charge in December 2018.
But City have turned the title race into a procession since the new year and it is only a matter of time before they are crowned English champions for a third time in four seasons.
Pep Guardiola’s team have enjoyed a remarkable revival after a spluttering start to the season.
After a 1-1 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion in mid-December, City had won just five of their opening 12 Premier League games and started their next match at Southampton 11 points adrift of defending champions Liverpool.
It was the worst start of Guardiola’s managerial career, but since a transformative 3-1 victory at Chelsea on January 3, City have left their rivals trailing in their wake.
That was the start of a run of 18 successive wins in all competitions, a record sequence for an English top-flight club.
They have also won their last 18 away games in all competitions, also a record a team from England’s top tier.
City’s achievements have been even more impressive given the issues posed by a frantic fixture list amid the coronavirus pandemic.
– Brighton rocked –
In Sunday’s early game at Molineux, Brighton took the lead after 13 minutes when Lewis Dunk headed in Pascal Gross’ corner.
Graham Potter’s side needed a victory to be sure of avoiding relegation.
But Brighton captain Dunk was sent off in the 53rd minute after he pulled back Fabio Silva as the Wolves forward raced through on goal.
Wolves made the most of their numerical advantage in the 76th minute as Adama Traore fired home after exchanging passes with Silva.
Brighton were unable to hold on and Morgan Gibbs-White won it for Wolves in the 90th minute with a fine finish for his first Premier League goal.
Adding to Brighton’s woes, French striker Neal Maupay was sent off for foul and abusive language after the final whistle.
The Seagulls are 10 points above the relegation zone, with third bottom Fulham, who have four games left, playing Burnley on Monday.
Later, fifth-placed West Ham host Everton as they bid to close the gap on fourth-placed Leicester.
The Hammers, making an unexpected charge for Champions League qualification, are five points behind Leicester, who lost to Newcastle on Friday.
Troubled Arsenal, who crashed out of the Europa League against Villarreal on Thursday, face second-bottom West Bromwich Albion in Sunday’s final game.
West Brom, 10 points from safety with four games left, will be relegated if they lose at the Emirates Stadium.