We are now past the halfway point in the in the Premier League season with the majority of sides having played 21 games. The fight for top spot is really beginning to take shape but not exactly in the way a lot of people would have expected it to.
Although the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea have been impressive and put in displays that would normally put them much nearer to the top of the table, the race for the title has arguably been a two horse one almost from the very start of the season. This might be somewhat unfair on Spurs in particular, who currently sit in second place, a point ahead of Manchester City. Yet, City have a game in hand and many are questioning whether Tottenham are capable of providing the consistency needed to maintain any hope of winning the league.
It’s easy to see why City were viewed as title favourites considering the start they made this season. They were playing and still do play a very eye catching style of football. However, this hasn’t prevented them from losing 3 games in close succession, something you can’t afford to do, especially when Liverpool are performing the way they are. In fact, the reds still remain unbeaten in the league as they prepare to face their greatest title contenders tonight. As we’ve seen with Manchester City, a side’s outlook on a season can massively change within a matter of weeks so the title is far from won for Jurgen Klopp’s side making tonight’s match all the more important.
Having said this, going 20 games unbeaten in what is the the most competitive league in world football takes a special team. Much to the distress of City fans, there will be great doubt as to whether Liverpool will lose three games over the remainder of the season. This and the fact that City would potentially have to win all their remaining games, has left Liverpool in a very strong position. It seems clear that tonight’s game is a must-win one for Pep’s men. A win would greatly boost their confidence and could cause Liverpool to stumble under the pressure in their upcoming fixtures.
Another factor that could work in City’s favour is the Champions League. Of course, both sides still remain in the competition meaning it could affect them equally in terms of fatigue and as a distraction from domestic football. However, Liverpool could be at greater risk for a couple of reasons. Firstly, whilst underestimating any side in the Champions League is probably not a particularly smart thing to do, the draw does appear to have been favourable for City. They’re up against Schalke whilst Liverpool face German giants Bayern Munich. Again, no tie in this competition will be easy but this is certainly one City will be expecting to win and it may not take as much out of them as two games against one of Europe’s top teams might out of Liverpool. The Merseyside club also progressed all the way to the final last year only to be beaten by Real Madrid, something they will be desperate to put right this time round. If they choose to prioritise this over domestic football then their league form could potentially take a hit with City in the perfect position to take advantage.
We could speculate endlessly about what may or many not happen over the remainder of the season but, in truth, doing this with any real accuracy is virtually impossible. As I’ve said already, not many people would have thought Liverpool would be this far clear at the top by this point in the season and we could be surprised again by the end of it. Perhaps the best indicator is tonight’s game which could be turn out to be the biggest of the whole season, so sit back and enjoy!