We have a title race again – Liverpool pile on the pressure
Manchester City will now be looking over their shoulder following the commanding and exceptional 6-0 victory against Leeds in the league on Wednesday night for Liverpool, as there are now only three points between the two title contenders. The excitement will continue to build from this point as with each week we move closer to the fixture at the Etihad Stadium on the 9th of April between the pair of chasers. Whilst this match might not be decisive, it could be a turning point for either team. Who will we see lift the trophy at the end of the season?
On Saturday, City lost 3-2 to Tottenham Hotspur, their first defeat in the league since losing 2-0 to Crystal Palace on the 30th of October. The defeat has allowed for many football fans to dream of a title race instead of the expected procession to the club’s sixth Premier League title in ten years. This result will be undoubtedly scrutinised by Pep Guardiola and his team to ensure this does not happen again between now and the end of the season to achieve their desired feat of dominance within the league.
The current City team have had many running out of superlatives to describe their quality due to the machine-like nature in achieving results this season. The side have currently conceded the fewest goals in the league this season and will look to continue this record until the end of the season with their ability to control possession, limiting goalscoring chances for the opposition. The majority of opposition sides look to utilise counter attacks to achieve success against City but the pace, quality and intelligence of their backline and goalkeeper keeps these opportunities at a minimum to work in tandem with their tactic of controlling possession. However, the City defence have looked troubled when the opposition attack quickly and precisely, exposing the high line of the side.
The creation of regular goal scoring chances is an impressive component of the Manchester City style of play and they are currently the second highest goal scorers in the Premier League at this point this season. However, their sacrifice of a traditional striker to finish the chances might be a rueful decision by Pep come the end of the season as the games City have dropped points in this season has been due to their wasteful nature in front of goal at times; Pep will want to limit these games and hope that the whole team will step up and contribute to the goals.
Manchester City’s remaining fixtures will not worry their expensively assembled squad, barring the fixture against Liverpool, as they have the ability and confidence to win each fixture. The side will need to guard against complacency however, particularly against their bitter rivals Manchester United and their two difficult away fixtures at West Ham and Wolves, to ensure that the favourites for the league achieve their start-of-the-season ambition.
The Reds will go into their final twelve fixtures full of determination to catch Manchester City and lift the league title for the record equaling 20th time. Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp will hope they can continue their good form from their fight on all four trophy fronts, however, they know that winning every league game still may not lead to them being crowned champions. Despite this, Klopp and the fans will demand that the team work hard to give them the best chance of lifting the Premier League, helping in their drive towards a potential quadruple come the end of the season.
The side with the most league goals this season is currently Liverpool and their strike force do not look like slowing down anytime soon with the Merseyside team only failing to score in one league match this season against Leicester, having missed a penalty in that game. The signing of Luis Diaz has added to an already impressive forward line including Mohammed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane; a forward line that will always cause problems as each player brings different elements to the sides attack and can create something from nothing, a great luxury for the team to have. However, should an injury or a loss in form to Salah, Jota and Mane occur an there could be an inevitable drop in performance and the title challenge could evaporate.
Liverpool have currently got the fourth best defence in the league however as witnessed throughout the season there have been quite a few questions raised about the solidity of their defence, particularly focusing on the high line and defeding opposition counters down the flanks. Chances given up by Liverpool in their previous fixtures against relegation-threatened Burnley and Norwich will worry the fans in their hunt for the league title. The great form of Alisson, Virgil Van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate will provide some confidence in their title challenge with the hope that the team continue to outscore their opponents and not have their weaknesses detrimentally exposed from now until the end of the season.
Liverpool will look to avoid any slip ups on their push to the league title with an arguably more difficult fixture list than their title rivals, Manchester City. Liverpool have key upcoming fixtures against all sides currently in the running for the Champions League places and a match at Anfield against their relegation-threatened local rivals Everton. The club will be confident in their ability to win each match as it comes due to the quality of the players but they will be under no illusion about how difficult it’s likely to be. Maintaining the pressure on City with the hope of overtaking them will be their aim.
As we enter the final stretch of the season, Manchester City will take confidence in knowing that they have history in beating Liverpool to the title with their successful 2013/2014 and 2018/2019 seasons. However, Liverpool will look to capitalise on their underdog status in this race as they will be chasing Manchester City knowing that the fate of the title is not in their control but will continue to pile on the pressure in the hope of a slip up from City. This has the potential to be a great final chapter in this trilogy of title races between these two great modern rivals of the Premier League with Liverpool hoping to come out as champions as City still remain favourites to lift the title.
Written by Brendan McGilligan | Feature Image by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
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