Advertisement
Sports

Liverpool have historic hope in Premier League title race despite Man City gap looking ominous

It may just be the goal that decides the fate of the Premier League title race. In late December.

Ademola Lookman’s — admittedly terrific — goal 14 minutes into the second half for Leicester against Liverpool could have much greater consequences than merely putting The Foxes 1-0 up, with the significance even going beyond the three points that subsequently followed.

Advertisement

Liverpool

Come May, we could look back on that goal, and that game, as the moment when the title race was effectively finished for Liverpool.

Advertisement

It should be ridiculous to claim that the title race could be finished in late December, but unfortunately this isn’t the case: not with the precedent Man City are setting.

Over the 2021 calendar year, Pep Guardiola’s side lost only six times in the Premier League, one of which was essentially a dead rubber against Brighton at the tail-end of last season, with the title long since sewn up. Moreover, they’ve only drawn twice within the same time frame.

Advertisement

In short, they are setting a relentless pace that leaves would-be challengers needing to perform at peak levels every match merely to compete with them.

Once upon a time, a six-point gap wasn’t viewed as a major thing. The Premier League is full of seasons where teams have been overtaken at the top by such a margin, but with Man City showing close to zero chance of suffering a dip in form any time soon, six points now seems almost insurmountable.

Advertisement

Liverpool

The loss to Leicester meant that Liverpool handed City the chance to go 12 points ahead by the time Klopp’s side next play in the league — against Chelsea on January 2.

12 points. At the turn of the year.

Such a deficit has been famously overturned once before in Premier League history, in the 1995-96 campaign. Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle sat atop the table in January 1996 with a 12-point gap between them and Manchester United.

The rest, of course, is well-known. Newcastle essentially threw the title away as United slowly reduced the lead to nothing, and then actually overtook Newcastle by the middle of March. United went on to win the title by four points.

Yet what separates the Newcastle of 1996 and the Man City of 2021 is the sheer squad depth that Guardiola has at his disposal. Guardiola can rest three ,four, five players on any given match day and not see a drop-off in quality. Only really Chelsea can make the same claim among the current challengers in the Premier League, and even they find themselves trailing in the champions’ wake, much like Liverpool.

Liverpool

Take for example City’s 4-0 win away to Newcastle and their subsequent fixture, the 6-3 demolition of Leicester. Guardiola made two key changes, bringing in İlkay Gündoğan and Fernandinho for Gabriel Jesus and Rodri. Such is the competition for places that he left £100m signing Jack Grealish and repeat Golden Boy nominee Phil Foden on the bench. Foden eventually came on, Grealish didn’t.

But it’s not just the squad depth that’s a key factor in the gap seeming overwhelming, it’s the pace that Man City are clicking into. They’ve scored 17 goals in their last three games; they were 4-0 up against Leicester within the opening 27 minutes. They are, and have been, playing at a frightening level.

Liverpool can reach those same heights, but aren’t as consistent due to injuries and lacking the same squad depth as City.

Can Liverpool close the gap?

liverpool
History has shown us that it’s possible, but this is a different time, and against a side with a different level of wealth to everyone in the league.

But it’s not just the squad depth that’s a key factor in the gap seeming overwhelming, it’s the pace that Man City are clicking into. They’ve scored 17 goals in their last three games; they were 4-0 up against Leicester within the opening 27 minutes. They are, and have been, playing at a frightening level.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement
Back to top button
The Konversation
error: Content is protected !!