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Man City bids to make history and Klopp bids farewell as Premier League heads toward dramatic finale

Manchester City is bidding to make history. Jurgen Klopp is bidding farewell.
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Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Tuesday, May 14, 2024.(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Manchester City is bidding to make history. Jurgen Klopp is bidding farewell.

The English Premier League is heading toward a dramatic and emotional finale on Sunday, with the title race between Man City — seeking an unprecedented fourth straight top-flight championship — and Arsenal going to the wire and taking center stage on an afternoon when goals and tears usually flow.

Many of those tears will likely come at Anfield where Klopp, the eccentric German who has bestrode the league for nearly nine years with his heavy-metal football and big grin, takes charge of his last game at Liverpool.

Klopp is definitely leaving. For other managers, the future is more uncertain.

Take those leading the three teams — Chelsea, Newcastle, Manchester United — who are looking to secure qualification for one of the European competitions. Mauricio Pochettino, Eddie Howe and Erik ten Hag, respectively, cannot be sure they'll be in the same job next season.

What's all but mathematically sure is that Luton is heading back to the second-tier Championship as the third relegated team. It will require a bizarre set of results to keep it up and send fourth-from-last Nottingham Forest down, meaning all three promoted clubs — Sheffield United, Burnley, Luton — will have lasted just one season in the league.

Most eyes, however, will be on the title race that has been tight but maybe not as absorbing as it could have been. That's because City — a trophy-hoarding machine led by Pep Guardiola — has long made a habit of finishing seasons on long winning runs, taking the tension out of what otherwise would be nerve-racking run-ins.

Beating Tottenham 2-0 on Tuesday left City with a two-point lead over Arsenal and knowing a win over West Ham will seal a fourth successive title, a feat which hasn't been achieved in England's top division since league play began in the sport's motherland in 1888.

City's future is also somewhat up in the air, given a date has been set — reportedly near the end of 2024 — for proceedings to be heard in a sports tribunal regarding the charges against the Abu Dhabi-owned club for about 80 alleged breaches of the Premier League financial rules and 30 more relating to City's alleged failure to cooperate with an investigation. If found guilty, penalties could include an expulsion from the top division.

For some, it leaves a cloud over City's successes but what few can deny is the genius of Guardiola, who is looking to clinch a sixth league title in eight years at Etihad Stadium.

If City fails to beat West Ham, Arsenal — without a league title since the “Invincibles” in 2004 — can snatch the trophy by beating Everton at home.

In a scenario where City draws and Arsenal wins, the teams would finish tied on 89 points and Arsenal would be first on goal difference.

Arsenal fans might not want to get too excited, though. West Ham, playing for the last time under departing manager David Moyes, has conceded five goals in each of its last two away games and City has not lost in any competition since Dec. 6, a run of 34 matches.

KLOPP’S FAREWELL

So, it's not the dream farewell for Klopp — there will be no second Premier League title to go out with — but Liverpool's supporters are sure to give a fitting sendoff to a manager who hasn't just led the club to eight trophies and helped regain its luster on the European stage. He has forged a connection with the port city and earned an iconic status, to boot.

Piling up the goals against Wolverhampton would be one way for Liverpool's players to thank their manager, who is sure to give The Kop one last flurry of fist pumps after the game.

EUROPEAN QUALIFICATION

While the four Champions League qualifiers — City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Aston Villa — have been confirmed, there are still some loose ends to tie up regarding who goes into the minor European competitions.

Tottenham needs a point at last-placed Sheffield United to guarantee fifth place and a berth in the Europa League.

Sixth-placed Chelsea (60), seventh-placed Newcastle (57) and eighth-placed Man United (57) are separated by three points ahead of games against Bournemouth, Brentford and Brighton, respectively. The sixth-place finisher will likely get into the Europa League and seventh place a Europa Conference League spot.

Man United will have a second opportunity for European qualification when it plays the FA Cup final against Man City on May 25.

RELEGATION

For Luton, the equation is as simple as it is improbable: it needs to beat Fulham at home and for Forest to lose at already-relegated Burnley. Added to that, there must also be a swing in goal difference of 12 between Luton and Forest.

Luton's players and manager Rob Edwards already appeared resigned to their fate last week after losing at West Ham.

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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

Steve Douglas, The Associated Press