Let’s face it, barring a momentous collapse from Liverpool, together with an incredible run of continuous victories for City, the blues will not win the Premier League this season. And while City have not been at their best this season, it has to be said that Liverpool’s run, VAR aside, is incredible and one that has been done before.
The 2017/18 season saw the blues raise the bar in Premier League football. After winning 2-0 at Brighton on the opening day of the season and drawing 1-1 with Everton, the blues embarked on one of the most remarkable winning runs the league had seen.
City won 18 straight Premier League matches to go 15 points clear of United at the top of the Premier League and the media were already declaring the title race over. By the end of the season, City had won the league by 19 points, the biggest margin in Premier League history. They could even afford to lose two matches while their nearest rivals lost seven.
Last season was much closer as Liverpool pushed the blues all the way before City won the title on the final day of the season with a 4-1 win at Brighton to win the league by a solitary point, despite losing four matches to Liverpool’s one. Liverpool’s only defeat last season was a 2-1 loss to City in January, but they also had a problem killing teams off, which City were not struggling with. Draws at West Ham, Everton and home to Leicester saw the Reds drop points as City’s winning run took them to Premier League glory, and it was clear that the Merseysiders would be there again the following season, and it was up to City to fight off the challenge if they wanted to retain their title.
Sadly though, the season hasn’t quite panned out as the supporters would have liked and many have pointed the finger at the club for City’s shortcomings in the league. The failure to replace Vincent Kompany and Giardiola’s reluctance to play John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi at the same time as meant an ageing Fernandinho has filled in at centre back. The Brazilian is capable, but not over the course of a long season. Injuries to Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane and now Raheem Sterling, along with the introduction of VAR has only covered up what the reality is.
And that reality is that Liverpool have simply been outstanding this season.
Those words are painful to say, but they have simply taken what City did two season ago and emulated it. Instead of drawing matches, they have found a way to win, just like City did in 2017 and again in the second half last season. They have become ruthless in front of goal and solid at the back. We can argue that VAR has played a part and it has, there’s no disputing that and take away the VAR decisions and the two teams would be closer – but Liverpool would still be on course to take the title. While City have been conceding last minute equalisers, Liverpool have been scoring last minute winners. While we have been drawing matches, they have been winning.
We can claim there’s an agenda against City, and it sounded that way when Peter Scudamore made his comments about spreading the trophies around, and when you look at some of the VAR decisions this season, it’s little wonder that the integrity of the FA and Premier League have been brought into question on more than one occasion. But in fairness, all this does is deflect from the blues poor season (by our standards) and places the blame elsewhere, but if anywhere, the blame should be directed at Anfield.
There can be no denying that, while City still have the quality to win the Premier League (a great team doesn’t go bad overnight), we’ve just come up against an irrepressible and determined Liverpool side that set its sights on the League title, and they seem unstoppable in their pursuit.
And when that happens, like it did with us two seasons ago, we just have to take it on the chin and come back stronger next season, which I’ve no doubt City will.