Manchester City have been riding high recently in the Premier League. With 12 straight wins in the bag, some had already declared the Blues champions as close title rivals have struggled to keep up with the pace.
Although Chelsea look down and out given the 10-point gap between the two sides (despite having played a game more), it could be a huge mistake to write off Liverpool so early in the season. The Reds are currently nine points behind City, but with a game in hand.
A win against Leeds will bring Jurgen Klopp’s side to within six points of City. Anyone who understands the Premier League will know that six points at the top of the table is nothing. In a matter of just a few weeks that advantage can be wiped out if the team at the top fails to keep winning.
Such is the pressure on Man City to perform or get caught. The team must keep winning to stay ahead of the chasing pack.
Liverpool have not allowed the absence of their two key forwards, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah affect their performance so far.
The latest 3-1 win against Crystal Palace put the Reds one step closer to catching the league leaders. The win also intensified the pressure on City as they could only draw at Southampton.
Pep Guardiola knows the title race is far from over and has been heard several times reminding his players to keep their focus until the job is done. He reiterated his stance after the 1-1 draw against the Saints.
“I have to tell you what I said before,” he stated. “Even today, winning the game the title race would not be over.
“No-one is champions in January. Many tough games like today must be played. We tried to play good, to try to defend our badge and our people as best as possible.
“The title being over will be a consequence for what we have done. Today what they did was really good.”
But can Liverpool catch Manchester City?
It is clear City have been the best team in the land so far. Despite dropping points to Southampton the Blues have been riding high. That is why they are on top of the table. The question though is for how long?
A nine or six-point gap in the Premier League is not insurmountable. City themselves proved this against Liverpool in 2019. The team overtook the Anfield side towards the last weeks of the season from being eight points behind to lift the title.
Guardiola will need to do everything necessary to prevent a possible collapse from his team. Klopp is really upbeat about Liverpool’s chances of upstaging City. But the title remains City’s to lose.
The biggest positive out of the game at St. Mary’s Stadium is the fact that despite not being at their best in the first half, the players came out, fought hard and earned a draw.
In fact, they were unfortunate not to win the game.
But it was important to avoid defeat. Every City fan would prefer a win. However, a draw is still a fair result. The winning run has been halted, but the team is still unbeaten in 13 straight Premier League games. That’s good news.
It now appears that the monster encounter with Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium come April will affect where the title goes.
If City arrive at the Etihad Stadium on April 9 against Liverpool with their advantage still in tact, we can begin to talk about retaining the title. For now, it’s better to heed Guardiola’s words that the title is not won in January.
If there is any team that can upstage Manchester City in the Premier League this season, it’s definitely Liverpool. So let’s not count our chickens before they hatch.