All to play for in the English Premier League.
In England today, defending English Premier League soccer champions Manchester City will retain their title if they win their final game on the season’s final day.
At the same time, City’s closest rivals, Liverpool FC, will play Wolverhampton Wanderers, hoping that City slip, meaning that they will do anything but win. Liverpool must, of course, still win.
If these two results eventuate — City doesn’t win and Liverpool does — then the title returns to Merseyside for the first time since1990.
Standing in City’s way today are league stragglers Brighton and Hove Albion, who are placed 17th in the 20-team division. The three teams below Brighton, Cardiff, Huddersfield and Fulham, will all go down a division next season.
In other words, Brighton are the worst-performing team among the teams that will not be relegated.
In normal circumstances, few people would say that an upset is possible.
City are in rampant form, having won 13 games in a row, while Brighton will be in relaxed mode, having been safe from relegation a few games ago and having nothing to play for aside from entertaining their home fans before everyone breaks off for the off-season, and to say goodbye to retiring captain Bruno.
On top of that, they will be without two key players, midfielder Davey Propper and attacker José Izquierdo.
Put all these together, though, and you get what seasoned soccer fans would say are the ripest of conditions for an upset of monumental proportions.
The other factor would be the venue itself.
Brighton, the town for upsets?
Brighton’s home ground, Falmer Stadium, was the site of what all rugby union fans will recall as the biggest upset in rugby history, and one of the biggest in sports history – when Japan beat two-time world champions South Africa 34–32 at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
That was a game that was won both on the field and off it.
And a key man in was Japan’s Australian coach, Eddie Jones, who masterminded the victory through his usual meticulous planning as well as his inside knowledge of South African rugby (he was consultant coach when the Springboks won their second World Cup in 2007).
Another Australian will play as big a role today.
Mat Ryan, Brighton’s goalkeeper, has suddenly found himself in the spotlight as he could play the biggest role in how English football’s greatest title race in years will pan out.
Ryan, who is also the last line of defence for the Australian national team, the Socceroos, is playing in his first season in the EPL and has acquitted himself reasonably well. But keeping out a powerful City attack that has scored an amazing 91 league goals this season will present a huge test for the 27-year-old.
But if he makes saves such as this one today, he will have the keys of the city of Liverpool for sure.
All being said, anything but a City win will be seen as a major upset. And when it comes to producing those, Brighton has a bit of history on its side.