City's cool head
The calm leadership of Pellegrini will win the title for the Citizens
(Ross Barkley 11, Romelu Lukaku 65)
MAN CITY 3
(Sergio Aguero 22, Edin Dzeko 43, 48)
According to Manchester City sources, the open-top bus parade has been pencilled in for next Monday.
If Liverpool fail to win at Crystal Palace tomorrow morning (Singapore time), the title celebration date can be inked, rubberstamped and underlined with a highlighter pen.
Those impudent imposters from Merseyside will be finally put down. The Reds' rebellion will be over.
This was the moment. This was the knife-edge that Manuel Pellegrini's men had to tip-toe across at Goodison Park, with a nightmare waiting on one side and nirvana on the other.
Other managers might have lost their heads. But Pellegrini kept his.
The title is now his for the taking.
Of course, City must still play genial hosts to Aston Villa and West Ham, but the only claret on display will be on the visitors' jerseys.
There will not be blood. Those fixtures should serve as housewarming parties for the new silverware heading to the Etihad Stadium.
Only goal difference separates City and Liverpool, but a gulf exists between the two in terms of momentum.
City's victory at Everton was never comfortable. It wasn't always convincing, but it did look title-winning.
One win at Goodison Park in 15 visits entertained statisticians in the build-up - another reminder, if one were needed, of how pointless such statistics usually prove to be - but City struggled to contain their indifference.
What did the failures of their football forbears have to do with them? As it turned out, absolutely nothing.
With the emphasis understandably on Liverpool's unexpected romantic run in recent weeks, attention has shifted away from Pellegrini's subtle progress at the Etihad. Brendan Rodgers' revolution had a far sexier ring to it than Pellegrini's pedestrian evolution.
But the quiet, assured, steely-eyed graduate of the schools of hard knocks in Spain and South America has moulded a resilient bunch in his own image.
The ranting from warring players and managers alike is out, much to the disappointment of the media, but a collective fortitude is most certainly in.
Roberto Mancini gave better press conferences than he did performances and it's interesting to speculate how his City side might have reacted to going a goal down to Ross Barkley's wonder-strike in such a sphincter-loosening clash away from home.
Pellegrini was not unduly perturbed, nor were his players. Pressure is commonplace at a billion-dollar workplace. Panic isn't.
Sergio Aguero simply hit replay on his goal collection and scored his last-minute title-winner against Queens Park Rangers again. Only this time, the opponents were Everton, but the finish may prove equally significant in the late, late dash to breast the tape first.
But it was Pellegrini's crafty tactical insight that possibly won his side the championship.
Aguero's goal came at a cost. He aggravated his groin problem. He had to withdraw. Perhaps most managers - and Mancini almost certainly - would've opted for the obvious like-for-like swop; or in the case of Alvaro Negredo, an almost like-for-like swop. There is no one else quite like Aguero.
But Pellegrini knew better. Everton had a hole; the same hole that City had foolishly dug up in pre-season and carted off to the other side of Lancashire.
Gareth Barry's loan agreement made him conspicuous by his absence. Pellegrini saw an opportunity to make amends for farming out a defensive midfielder who might have wrapped up the title a little earlier (if nothing else, Barry would've guaranteed cover for Martin Demichelis during his earlier struggles with brittle backbone).
But Negredo's backside continued to warm the bench. Fernandinho came on instead. Yaya Toure was pushed forward to exploit the space usually occupied by Barry.
Edin Dzeko did the rest.
A once-forlorn striker largely forgotten by Mancini is now a centre-forward resurrected, thanks to a phone call from his new manager in pre-season, when Pellegini pledged to give the broken Bosnian a second chance.
Dzeko reciprocated twice yesterday, making it 24 for the season.
When the overarching narrative of this season is eventually written, the obvious plot points will capture our attention.
Steven Gerrard's heart-breaking slip encapsulated a Shakespearean tragedy.
And Jose Mourinho's bus parking at Anfield completed his transformation into a cloak-wearing pantomime villain to boo and hiss at whenever he stepped from the wings.
In the shadow of such dramatic plot twists, Pellegrini's discreet tinkering during City's heart-thumpingly nervy contest might be overlooked.
But the wily 60-year-old wouldn't have it any other way. He leaves the chest-thumping to others.
His rivals can grab the headlines.
He will grab the Premier League trophy during that open-top bus parade next Monday.
We definitely expect to win (the title) now. We've been working so hard this year and if we don't win the trophy now, it will be a massive disappointment for us, and for the club and the fans as well.
- Man City's Yaya Toure
BY THE NUMBERS
Edin Dzeko's winner at Everton is Man City's 150th goal of the season - a top-flight record. The Citizens scored 96 in the EPL and 54 in other competitions.
'We passed important test'
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini felt his side passed an important test in winning at Everton to go top of the table, but he is still not thinking about the title.
Goals from Sergio Aguero and two from Edin Dzeko turned things around for the visitors after Ross Barkley's wonder-strike early on.
Although the visitors endured a difficult time after Romelu Lukaku pulled a goal back with 25 minutes to go, they held on to assume pole position in the title race.
If City win their remaining two games at home to Aston Villa and West Ham, they will regain the championship they won in 2012 - irrespective of what Chelsea or Liverpool do - as they have a superior goal difference.
But Pellegrini is not thinking that far ahead just yet.
"It was a very big test. Three points are huge for us to continue to win the title," he said.
"It is important but we have not finished yet. We just have won one of the three games we must win to lift the title.
"Maybe there was some doubt before the match about what Everton would do against us, but we knew we would have to have a game against a very good team at home.
"This is a difficult place to come, especially when you concede a goal at the start, and we did well to come back.
"It was all about the concentration and character of the team today."
City's move to the top may lessen the chance of a fairy-tale finish for Liverpool, who are still hoping to end their title drought stretching back to 1990, in a year which has the added symbolism of being the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
Pellegrini was asked whether he had any feelings about not being the most popular champions should they lift the trophy in the coming week.
"I don't know who will be the most popular champions because I am not talking about the title," he added.
"When we finish the season, we can analyse all those things.
"After we lost against Liverpool (last month), I said the Premier League was not over and we must continue playing and we tried to do our best - that is why it is so important to try to win the next game." - PA Sport.