Arsenal had a surprise run to the Premier League title last term pushing Manchester City all the way to the final weeks of the campaign before City capitalised on the Gunner’s inexperience to claim a third successive EPL crown. Although Mikel Arteta is bent on knocking City off their perch this term, he is not the only one with title ambitions.
Reinvigorated Tottenham, new money bags Newcastle United and old-timers Manchester United are all striving for the ultimate prize. But from the early signs displayed so far, Liverpool look like the biggest threat to City’s title hopes this season.
Although the Blues have a perfect start to the campaign, Liverpool and Arsenal are yet to taste defeat. The Reds are particularly looking stronger by the day. They’ve put three past each of their five opponents in different competitions.
City have had fierce running battles with Liverpool in recent times. Jurgen Klopp’s side went head-to-head with the blues in the fight to secure the Premier League title on different occasions in the last decade. The Reds have come close to toppling City several times but only succeeded in 2020.
It was their first league title in almost 30 years and naturally, the Anfield faithful want more. Klopp did a surgical operation on his midfield in the summer. The old was dispensed with in favour of fresh legs. Ones with a proven record of success elsewhere, including the World Cup.
City have won five of the last six league titles, and the aim for Arsenal and Liverpool heading into the new campaign was to give the Blues a run for their money. Things are going according to plan as just two points separate City and Liverpool at the top of the table.
Boasting a strong defensive unit that has won several trophies in the last few years, the team has a solid base to build attacks. A younger but vastly experienced midfield with the likes of Argentina World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister and former RB Leipzig man Dominik Szoboszlai help move the ball quickly to the forwards who have been very efficient.
Club legend Mohamed Salah has been at his best with three goals and four assists from six league games. Front man Darwin Núñez has three strikes from two starts while Luis Díaz and Diogo Jota have grabbed two goals apiece to keep City within reach.
A strong goal difference of +10 also means the team is just three behind the defending champions. City are set to face Arsenal in less than a fortnight and the result of that encounter could have serious ramifications on the title race even if it’s still early in the campaign.
Arsenal will do everything necessary to beat City knowing that would not only boost the Gunners’ confidence but also put City on edge. Just as the case with Newcastle, beating City is not just another victory or about three points. It’s about exorcising the ghosts that haunt them and getting rid of mental obstacles to progress.
It’s about making a statement and striking fear into the opposition to create self-doubt. It’s about announcing their arrival and readiness to become the new Kings. It’s also about demonstrating to others that City are beatable after all.
Having injuries to contend with and the collective determination of others to dethrone them, City will find out in the next few weeks and months that indeed, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Fortunately, the team has been here before and know how to handle the pressure.
But any show of weakness or slacking could be met with a brutal beatdown. And the next in line, most likely Liverpool, will step up to claim the spoils.