Manchester City and Liverpool remain a point apart in the race for the Premier League title. With seven matches left to play, it is all still to play for. Both teams are still yet to play each other in the semi-final of the FA Cup, and could potentially meet in an all-English final in this season’s Champions League. However, as far as the Premier League is concerned, there could well be a twist in the plot to come.
While Pep Guardiola’s side squandered their lead twice at the Etihad last weekend, to draw 2-2, the football betting odds still fall in their favour when it comes to defending their title. Let’s recap the weekend’s action and which way the pendulum could well swing.
1. How you start is vital
Manchester City were straight out of the traps, and deservedly took the lead in the opening five minutes, when Kevin De Bruyne’s mazy run and deflected shot hit the back of the net. The hosts could have been two goals to the good by that point, and while Liverpool equalised only minutes later – through Diogo Jota’s swift reactions from close range – the visitors had been very slow in the opening 10 minutes.
Statistics show that Liverpool have scored their fewest goals in the first 15 minutes of each half, and in the weekend’s encounter had been off the pace and nervous. Those nerves continued during the first half, as City dominated but failed to convert a whole host of chances. While they restored their lead just before the break, with Gabriel Jesus’ flick from João Cancelo’s cross, their margin of victory could have been greater going into the break – and Liverpool duly capitalised early in the second period.
2. Liverpool relentless
Form is everything, and going into this one, Liverpool were in exceptional form. Jürgen Klopp’s side haven’t lost a Premier League game this calendar year, with their last defeat coming against Leicester City on December 28th. Since then, they have only dropped points against Chelsea and Manchester City – closing the gap at the top of the table from 14 points to just a solitary point.
And while during that fixture at the turn of the year, Liverpool had gone ahead twice to be pegged back by the west London outfit, against City, they showed resilience and fighting spirit to come from behind to snatch a crucial point. The selection of Jota was completely justified, and it will be interesting to see if Klopp continues with the Portuguese forward in his three-prong attack in future matches.
3. Going down to the wire
While ahead of their encounter, the match was being billed as a ‘title race decider’, there’s still seven fixtures to go, and with the gap only a solitary point, there’s bound to be more twists and turns to come. Neither side will want to drop points and while the advantage is still with City – just – it’s the most exciting title race the English top flight has seen for a while.
Liverpool can go top with victory in their next Premier League fixture against Manchester United – with City not playing until the following day, when they host Brighton & Hove Albion. And looking at their remaining fixtures, it’s fair to say that Guardiola’s side have the easier run-in.
As well as hosting the Merseyside Derby, Liverpool also play three of the top eight – with Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers all travelling to Anfield. By stark contrast, City play five teams in the bottom half of the table, including relegation-threatened Watford, as well as Leeds United and Newcastle United.
Guardiola summed it up perfectly, when he said post-match:
“Now both teams know [there are] seven games left, you have to win or it will all be over.”