Barclays Premier League

  • Venue: Etihad Stadium
  • Date: Sunday, 13 May

Manchester City are again at full strength for their decisive clash with Queens Park Rangers.

Striker Mario Balotelli may return to the substitutes' bench after missing out completely against Newcastle.

Queens Park Rangers midfielder Samba Diakite is still unavailable because of a lingering virus.

Shaun Derry is nursing a dead leg and Akos Buzsaky is also a doubt with a hamstring problem, but Heidar Helguson could return from a groin injury.

Forty four years and two days since their last title, the blue half of Manchester is finally ready to celebrate being the champions of English football again. It's a day thousands of City fans thought they'd never see in their lifetimes. It's a day thousands of City fans daren't even think about celebrating yet - not with work still to do.

LAWRO'S PREDICTION

"It adds to the spice of the occasion that it is former City manager Mark Hughes going back to Etihad Stadium, needing a point to keep QPR up."

They've all been through far too much and seen just about everything from their many different teams over the years to expect the expected!

In an eery coincidence, as with their 1968 success, they might have to pay attention to a game between Manchester United and Sunderland at the same time as willing City to a win.

Then, as now, the Manchester clubs went into their final games of the season separated only by goal difference (goal average then). City won 4-3 at Newcastle as United lost at home to Sunderland anyway but it wasn't an afternoon devoid of drama, with City twice losing the lead at St James's Park.

With football coverage and communication as it is now, there should be no problem keeping up with exactly what's happening at the Stadium of Light IF City fans need to know.

A goal difference eight better than United's means a home win would make events on Wearside irrelevant anyway - but I can't help but think of 1996 when it comes to Manchester City and final-day drama. Coming back from two goals down to draw with Liverpool, and false reports of Coventry losing at home to Leeds, led to City's staff telling the players a draw was enough to stay in the Premier League. Instead of going for the win they tried for too long to play out time and drew - as did Coventry. City went down on goal difference.

Going down with them were QPR. If their first return to the top flight since then is to last longer than one season then they might need to avoid defeat - possibly denying City the title in the process. Honestly, Frederick Forsyth couldn't have a written a more thrilling script!

?Time to sit back and watch the drama unfold?

Rangers fans will be hoping for anything other than a Bolton win at Stoke to make their first ever trip to the Etihad Stadium a more relaxed one. No wins and just two points from their last 12 away games - coupled with City's unbeaten home record - makes a QPR win seem a distinctly unlikely occurrence. Or does it?

With Mark Hughes and his coaching staff having been sacked by City in an 'unethical way' according to Sir Alex Ferguson, there's a revenge factor in play. With Joey Barton, Nedum Onuoha and Shaun Wright-Phillips in the QPR squad there's a strong ex-player factor too.

Time to sit back and watch the drama unfold. Let's just not expect the expected. I know that doesn't really make sense - but this is Manchester City after all. Things rarely have with them.

Head-to-head

  • This is QPR's first visit to play at the Eithad Stadium. They only lost two of their last seven league trips to play City at Maine Road.
  • Manchester City have won 20 of the 48 previous meetings, compared to QPR's 12 victories.

Manchester City

  • City have won their final Premier League game of the season only three times in 14 attempts.
  • The English league title has only been won on goal average/goal difference on five occasions: in 1924, 1950, 1953, 1965 and 1989.
  • Roberto Mancini's side have dropped just two points at home this season.
  • Joe Hart has kept an unrivalled 17 clean sheets in the top flight this season. He also kept the most last season (18).
  • City have not conceded a goal in the opening 15 minutes of a Premier League game this season.

Queens Park Rangers

  • The last time they were relegated from the Premier League in 1995-96 they went down with Bolton and Manchester City.
  • QPR have gone 12 matches without an away win in the league since beating Stoke in November (D2, L10).
  • They have alternated between an away defeat and a home victory in their last 10 matches.