Whilst it is still very early on in the season, it was looking to be a year that was City’s for the taking. It could still well be, but today has displayed it won’t be easy if they are to retain their title. The champions slipped up and were dealt their first defeat of the season to allow Liverpool to gain a one point advantage on the Citizens.
Liverpool put even greater pressure on City, who were to play a crucial game in influencing their campaign, by gaining another 3 points. The reds would have travelled to Bournemouth confident of getting the win, and they did just that, in some style. Whilst the cherries have been struggling somewhat recently, a 0-4 victory away from home is still a huge achievement, and it was greatly thanks to star man Mo Salah. The Egyptian appears to be silencing his doubters following his slow start to the season in comparison to last year. He scored a hat-trick making him the Premier League’s joint top scorer with 10 goals, equal to Arsenal forward Aubameyang. Many thought this win would only keep Liverpool top for a matter of hours with Manchester City yet to play but, as it turns out, they will be remaining there until next weekend, at least.
This is because the blue side of Manchester have experienced the feeling of a Premier League loss for the first time in what seems like forever. They faced a trip to Chelsea who proved they are not to be underestimated following disappointing losses to both Tottenham and Wolves in recent times. The London club bounced back by beating City, who were way below their usual high standards, 2-0 to keep themselves in contention for a Champions League spot. Having been greatly at fault for goals conceded and ultimately losses, particularly against Spurs, David Luis was a villain turned hero today. Not only did he and his fellow defenders keep a clean sheet against a prolific City attack, the Brazilian also scored the second goal to reinforce the lead and make for a less nervy ending to the game. Whilst Chelsea were very solid in keeping City at bay, Guardiola’s side were certainly not themselves. Having been so strong this season, a slight hint of complacency may have crept into their game, which is always going to be punished when playing in such a competitive league against one of its top sides. Pep will be looking to make certain that his players are back on the ball for their next game to ensure the title doesn’t begin to slip from their grasp.
Although both teams have received a significant amount of praise for how well they’ve performed this season, it’s the Manchester club who have taken the majority of the limelight whilst Liverpool have quietly gone about their business. Pundits and spectators have been raving about City and their style of football; some suggesting they are the best side the Premier League has ever witnessed. Although this may still yet be true, you have to question why Liverpool haven’t been commended to the same extent. The Merseyside club have never been more than a couple of points off the pace. They are now the only unbeaten club remaining in the Premier League and are a point ahead of favourites Man City. I’m not saying City haven’t been extremely impressive this season, but surely if Liverpool are yet to be beaten and lead in the title race they must be just as, if not more impressive.
Regardless of who you think has been the strongest side so far this season, one thing we can safely say is that everything is perfectly poised for the remainder of it. Unless any of the other clubs can pull off a miracle, the fight for the title is looking even more like a two-horse race between City and Liverpool, with both sides in reasonable positions to win it. The battle for the leftover Champions League places is just as tense with Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham all level on points. It would hardly be surprising if the race for the title and Champions League positions were eventually decided by as tight a margin as goal difference come the end of the season. You’d have to be brave to call how this one is going to end.