Manchester City's hopes for a second Premier League title in three seasons require some help from Liverpool's opponents, and in the meantime, all Manuel Pellegrini's squad can do is avoid a fatal slip up.
They could have Yaya Toure back to aid in that task when traveling to Selhurst Park Sunday for a meeting with streaking Crystal Palace, who have secured Premier League safety for the first time in club history.
"We always talk with the players that if Liverpool win their (last) three matches and win 14 in a row, they will be champions," said Pellegrini after Monday's 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad Stadium. "Our duty is to try to win the games and in that way Liverpool can feel pressure."
City (23-5-6), whose 74 points are six back of the Reds with four matches to play and one in hand, have been without their star midfielder for two matches. The Ivory Coast international was expected to be out until the beginning of May, but Pellegrini said the 18-goal scorer would likely be fit for the Eagles.
The bigger concern might be how they'll handle the loss of fellow midfielder David Silva, who injured his ankle in the second half against West Brom and has been ruled out.
"We know how important David Silva is for the team," defender Pablo Zabaleta said after scoring his first goal of the season. "I think with him in the starting 11, it's different. He's the man who does everything very simple and made the team play much better."
The Citizens have won their last four meetings with Palace (13-4-18), including a 1-0 win at the Etihad on Dec. 28, though they haven't run into the Eagles on this kind of high note.
In addition to reaching safety for the first time after succumbing to relegation in each of their first four Premier League seasons, Palace have won five straight Premier League matches for the first time in their history.
With 43 points in 11th place in the table, they can now get greedy and attempt to climb into the top half with Stoke City and Newcastle United well within reach.
The Eagles have conceded twice in the five-match overall winning streak while keeping four clean sheets.
"The defence has been fantastic, but I also think we've played some really, really good football, again we could have scored three or four goals," manager Tony Pulis told the club's official website after Saturday's 1-0 victory over West Ham United at Upton Park.
Mile Jedinak converted a 59th-minute penalty to give Palace their third straight victory away from Selhurst Park.
The defence will certainly be tested by the prolific scoring of City, who have finished 20 chances in their last seven matches.
While the Citizens travel to Everton before closing the season with home fixtures against Aston Villa and West Ham, Palace closes out by hosting top-of-the-table Liverpool and traveling to Fulham.
"I actually looked at the last few fixtures and the last two home games are an absolute nightmare: Man City and Liverpool," Pulis said. "So I thought we'd better be close at this time as I wouldn't like to be going into them needing points. But it's been a remarkable turnaround and everybody at the football club deserves a lot of credit."
Not the least among those is midfielder Jason Puncheon, who has four goals in his last four matches.
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- Premier League
- Manchester City
- Manuel Pellegrini
- West Bromwich Albion