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Gerrard’s last chance? Liverpool and Man City vie for PL title

In the space of 10 seconds, everyone associated with Liverpool football club saw the Premier League trophy literally slip away from them. As such, they are now 12/1 to win the title, despite being only two points behind Manchester City. In the final game, the Reds are 4/5 to score first while Manchester City are 10/11 against West Ham. Coral are also offering odds of 3/1 to new customers for Manuel Pellegrini’s side to record victory with a maximum stake of £10.

To quote Al Pacino from the classic ‘Any Given Sunday’ Liverpool “are in hell right now,” and even Steven Gerrard will agree that “life is just a game of inches, so is football and in either game, life or football the margin for error is so small”.

Liverpool have defied odds and common sense before. Memories of Istanbul still linger around Anfield. Losing 3-0 at half time to AC Milan in the Champions League final, all hope of victory had been extinguished. And then it happened. Steven Gerrard happened. The fire in the captain’s belly has burned ever since.

He almost single-handedly won the game in the second half; an accomplishment which prompted Jose Mourinho to pursue him so persistently during his first spell in charge of Chelsea. Gerrard’s loyalty to his hometown club and continuous snubs of other big money offers has earned him the respect of many. There is no doubt he will be the best player not to win the Premier League if it continues to evade him.

The Reds do have a penchant for the spectacular when it comes to winning trophies under Gerrard’s captaincy. Merely a year later, it was his net buster that acted as the catalyst to winning the FA Cup against West Ham, in a dramatic final, and one of the best ever climaxes to the competition. To open the scoring in the final instalment of the 2013/14 Premier league campaign, Gerrard is 4/1 and 20/1 to hit a hat-trick.

Footballing Gods tend to reward those who deserve success. The less superstitious also call these events karma. Science calls it the law of compensation – you get out in equal terms the exact amount that you put into something. And you can’t argue with science.

Brendan Rodgers knows only a win against Newcastle and a minor miracle at the Etihad will deliver them the title. Even he is realistic, though can at least be encouraged that the Reds haven’t lost at home against the Magpies for 20 years, perhaps reflected by their odds-on price of 1/5.

Rodgers has Jordan Henderson available after the player served a three match ban, while Hatem Ben Arfa, Adam Armstrong, Papiss Cisse, and Davide Santon will be absent for the visitors who have lost three out of four games.

Manchester City will be taking on West Ham 25 miles across the M62, knowing that a win will mathematically secure their second title in three years. The visitors are 16/1 to record what many view as an unlikely victory, though there is an added incentive for a handful of Hammers players.

Kevin Nolan is Liverpool born and bred, and supported them growing up. Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Joe Cole all played for the Merseyside club, so a connection within the team is prevalent.

Carroll has had an indifferent campaign due to injury and dips in form, and as a result has only netted twice in the league. He also has an eye on an England place for the World Cup; perhaps fittingly this fixture could provide added motivation for him to perform, so odds of 9/2 to strike at any time could be viewed as generous.

Pellegrini has already won the Capital One Cup in his first season in charge. The initial aim will have been to win the Premier League, and his team are now odds-on at 1/50 to do so. Boosted by the return to fitness of striker Sergio Aguero, who is 9/4 to score first, the Chilean will be happy to have a full strength squad, despite Fernandinho being used sparingly.

The Brazilian midfielder featured as a substitute in the 4-0 demolition of Aston Villa last time out, coming on in the second half. Aguero, however, knows what it takes to win the title. He broke Manchester United hearts with the last kick of the game two years ago against QPR, which prompted spectacular scenes in Manchester.

Sam Allardyce’s side have already frustrated Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this season in a stalemate, and he will be set on going one better in the last game of the league calendar. He has no new injury worries and, after beating Spurs 2-0 last time out, will be confident of building on that.

Gerrard’s date with destiny is fast approaching. “Football is about inches….and the guy that is willing to fight and die…will win that inch”. Aguero et al, though, could just spoil another party.