Yaya Toure. Picture: REUTERS
Yaya Toure. Picture: REUTERS

London — Manchester City’s ground-breaking season encountered a minor roadblock before their Premier League coronation last Sunday but their eyes are now firmly back on completing a record-shredding finale.

Following a surprise 0-0 draw with Huddersfield Town on Sunday, maximum points from their final two games, at home to Brighton on Wednesday and away at Southampton, would ensure the champions finish on 100 points.

"We cannot deny it would be nice to reach 100 [points]," City manager Pep Guardiola said.

No side in England’s top flight has achieved this. Antonio Conte, the Chelsea manager, suggested in 2016 that a 100-point season was an impossible feat. Yet perfectionist Guardiola will be irritated if City’s majestic campaign is not rewarded with a three-figure flourish.

He has dedicated City’s final home game to Yaya Toure, a player he has described as one of the most important figures in the club’s history.

The Ivory Coast international, who turns 35 on the final day of the season, will start a Premier League game for the first time in this campaign against Brighton.

It is the manager’s way of allowing Toure to bid farewell to a club he joined when Guardiola sold him to City from Barcelona for £24m in 2010. Toure has been an integral part of City’s success, collecting three league titles, two League Cups and one FA Cup winner’s medal.

That body of work has led Guardiola to describe Toure as "an extraordinary person" and guarantee him an emotional farewell on Wednesday.

"He has been big," he said. "Football players make the clubs bigger and bigger and bigger and without doubt he was, is, one of the most important players in our history."

Against Brighton, who can relax after winning their fight for survival, the Etihad faithful will be expecting normal service to be resumed, with City needing a win to move to 97 points, two more than Chelsea’s landmark of 95 in 2004-05. Two more goals would also see City’s tally surpass Chelsea’s record of 2009-10, when Didier Drogba spearheaded a 103-goal fest.

The Wednesday action also sees the resumption of the battle between City’s distant pursuers to guarantee Champions League football next season. Tottenham Hotspur can move third on 74 points, leapfrogging Liverpool by two points if they beat Newcastle United at Wembley.

"It is in our hands to finish third," Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said.

Chelsea, fifth on 69 points, would jump into fourth by beating struggling Huddersfield on Wednesday. Should Huddersfield lose, their fate would go down to the wire when they host Arsenal for Arsene Wenger’s final game.

Reuters

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