Manchester City returned to winning ways against Southampton after suffering back-to-back Premier League defeats for the first time in two seasons. Pep Guardiola has turned the Sky Blues into a swashbuckling side capable of winning trophies every season. Hence, many tipped the team to retain a league title it won in grand style last term. But recent results have left doubts in the minds of many.
The strength of the opposition has made the possibility of losing out on the title race even more real as Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea are not quite the teams they were last season. Maurizio Sarri’s side handed Guardiola the first league defeat of the campaign, while Tottenham has once overtaken City on the table.
But it is Liverpool that pose the biggest threat to the Cityzens’ ambition. Jurgen Klopp is rewriting history at Anfield as he has turned things around in his three seasons at the club. The last time the club won the league title was in 1990. That was before the league was rebranded as the Premier League. The former Borussia Dortmund gaffer is on a mission to end that drought and he has assembled a team capable of accomplishing the feat.
Despite not seriously challenging for the league title last term, he surprised everyone by reaching the Champions League final. The team was propelled there by a dangerous front three.
Although, thrashing Guardiola’s side 5-1 on the way there wasn’t so cool, the German manager aims to rub salt to the wound this time around. That would be done by dethroning Man City as Premier League champions.
The Sky Blues have largely shot themselves on the foot by losing a massive nine points out of the last fifteen available. On the other hand, the Merseysiders have taken full advantage. They’ve taken maximum points in the last 9 matches and remain unbeaten all season.
However, City can remedy the situation by cutting the seven-point gap down to just four with a win. But a loss at the Etihad Stadium against the Reds could mean the title race is all but over. A 10-point gap at the top of the table could prove too difficult to close even with 17 games left to play. The reason for that is not far fetched. Klopp’s men have been ruthless so far and show no signs of stopping.
Against the big six, the Reds have not lost a single game, winning three and picking at least a point in the other three. And then they simply blow the other teams away.
Of course they will likely drop more points before the season ends, but who else wouldn’t?
However, there is a huge difference between a four-point gap and that of 10. City was in the same position last term. Finishing December with a 10-point gap means winning the title is almost guaranteed.
That makes Thursday’s match a must win for Guardiola’s team. Even the manager knows it as he has expressed in his comments already.
”We knew it, that with the position of Liverpool, if we drop points then it is over, it (the title race) is finished,” Guardiola stated after the Southampton game.