Man City’s victory against Liverpool FC blew the Premier League wide open – who will win the title now?
Can Liverpool FC still pull off a title success or are Man City looking like the strongest contenders now? Let's take a look
Liverpool FC’s unbeaten run of 20 Premier League wins came to an end on 3 January when they came up against their biggest rival for the title, Manchester City.
Can Liverpool FCstill pull off a title success or are Man City looking like the strongest contenders now? We take a look at the battle for the League victory and take in the opinions of a couple of seasoned Liverpool FC vets.
The fixture earlier this month was gripping stuff, with Sergio Aguero once again proving the scourge of Liverpool FC thanks to a powerful near-post drive close to the end of a fast and furious first half.
Roberto Firmino briefly brought the Reds level with a 64th-minute header, but parity lasted only eight minutes as Leroy Sane smashed the winning goal in off the post.
Liverpool FC came out of the match still at the head of the table, but City’s victory reduced their lead to four points and blew the title race wide open.
Had Liverpool FC won, it could have clinched the season. Now, things are a lot less settled.
After the match Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said:
“Everything is open. If we lose today it is almost done, it would be so difficult. But we are four points behind them and they are the leaders. We have to fight a lot, but this gives us a lot of confidence.”
But suddenly the Reds are under a lot of pressure and manager Jurgen Klopp is facing questions about handling the pressure of a title run-in.
Former Liverpool FC ace Graeme Souness shrugged at the defeat, though.
“I think Liverpool are in a great place,” Souness said. “It’s the first week of January and it’s the first time they’ve lost. That’s the first time they’ve tasted losing in the Premier League.”
While it’s tempting to point to the Liverpool FC-Man City result as a loss of momentum for the Reds, it bears repeating that the Citizens have come unstuck three in six games and whether the 3 January fixture settled them is up for grabs.
Another Liverpool FC legend, Jamie Carragher, was less bullish than Souness though.
“Looking at it now – four points… I think we’ve probably said since the start of the season that City are the best team in this league. I think it’s maybe 50/50, maybe slightly in City’s favour, they will fancy their chances,” Carragher said.
At this point the bookies are marginally favouring Liverpool FC with odds of 4/5 compared to City’s 6/5, but it’s not hard to envision that going the other way. It’s certainly looking a lot tighter than the current Premier League relegation odds.
What it will probably come down to (if you can put aside the length of the grass for a minute) isn’t necessarily the specific fixtures coming up so much as the frequency of them.
Liverpool FC’s FA Cup defeat at the hands of Wolves wasn’t exactly inspiring stuff and didn’t do much to help that momentum, but it does mean Klopp’s team won’t have a fixture to play on 26 January when the fourth round ties take place.
In fact, looking ahead at the calendar the Reds only have five matches in the next six weeks. Klopp has often bemoaned the lack of time to work with his team on the training grounds and this opening up of Liverpool FC’s schedule could be exactly what he’s looking for.
After Liverpool FC’s Saturday game in Brighton they have an 11 day break – plenty of time for Klopp to take them away for a warm weather training session like he did last season for the team’s Marbella break.
Man City, meanwhile, are still fighting on four fronts, and they’re not going to want to let up on any of them.
As Carragher said: “That’s the big thing for City to do to take them to the next level, to become one of those super clubs with one of those on the CV.”
Indeed, Man City have eight matches in that same period where Liverpool FC have just five.
If Liverpool FC can keep their focus on the League and push out other concerns, they can build the stamina and form they need to carry them through to victory.