Man United set to clinch record 19th English title

Man United set to clinch record 19th English title

Published May. 12, 2011 2:16 p.m. ET

Manchester United will look to wrap up a record 19th English title on Saturday and give its key players a vital breather ahead of the team's defining game of the season - the Champions League final against Barcelona.

United needs just one point from its final two matches, starting with Blackburn at Ewood Park, to win the championship and overtake fierce rival Liverpool as England's most successful league club.

However, manager Alex Ferguson has already turned his attention to the Champions League final on May 28 and will be hoping a 12th Premier League title under his stewardship can be secured as quickly as possible.

"We will give every respect to Blackburn ... we will make sure we don't underestimate them," Ferguson said. "But the next few weeks, we will be doing some work on Barcelona. All the tactical things in particular will be about that."


Defending champion Chelsea, six points back in second and the only team capable mathematically of stopping United landing the title, hosts Newcastle at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Third-place Arsenal is a further three points adrift and is now nervously looking over its shoulder at Manchester City, which is two points behind but doesn't play in the league this weekend. City takes on Stoke in the FA Cup final on Saturday, a day before Arsenal hosts Aston Villa.

Liverpool would seal fifth place and a spot in the Europa League with a home win over sixth-place Tottenham at Anfield.

At the other end of the table, bottom side West Ham will go down if it doesn't win at fellow relegation rival Wigan at on Sunday.

Depending on other results, fourth-bottom Wolverhampton Wanderers could secure its Premier League status with a victory at Sunderland.

Ferguson may be tempted to play his strongest possible team against Blackburn in the hope of picking up at least a point, which would allow him to pick his fringe players against Blackpool on May 22.

"We don't want to come to the last game and to be nervous," United defender Nemanja Vidic said. "We have a big advantage and we are nearly there. It's important first of all to win the title.

"I'm just hoping we'll play properly next game and we can celebrate at Blackburn."

With City playing the FA Cup final after the Blackburn-United match, Ferguson's side has the incentive of stealing its crosstown rival's thunder on City's big day at Wembley.

That would revive memories of 1968, when City won the league only to see United become the first English team to win the European Cup two weeks later.

West Ham is bracing itself for a fire sale of its best players should the club be relegated.

The Hammers are four points adrift of safety with two games left and head to second-bottom Wigan without a victory since March 5.

"It's not looking good. It's out of our hands a bit even if we win both our games," said West Ham midfielder Scott Parker, who could be one of the team's big-name players to leave should it not survive the drop.

"I would be lying if I said we had a good opportunity of surviving but there's still a slight chance we can do something."

Third-bottom Blackpool, which is one point behind Wolves, is at home to Bolton on Saturday.

West Bromwich at home to Everton is Saturday's other game while fifth-bottom Birmingham, which still needs another victory to be sure of its place in the top flight next season, hosts Fulham.