It seems that games against Leicester City are becoming increasingly important in the Premier League of late. In May it was Vincent Kompany’s unlikely wonder strike that gave Manchester City three points and one hand on the title. Over the weekend James Milner’s penalty may have done the same for Liverpool. They would have hoped for a helping hand from Wolves but could never have expected one. Yet, the 25/1 victory for Nuno Santo’s men has given the Merseysiders an eight point lead as we head into the international break.
Manchester City have always been ‘leaky’ defensively but the current injury situation is really causing them problems along with certain unwise social media posts. The attacking options are still glorious for the Citizens but without strong foundations at the back they are becoming reminiscent of Ossie Ardiles’ Tottenham side of the 90s. Generally speaking they’ll still score plenty of goals against the weaker sides but an organised opposition defence and an efficient counter-attack can reap dividends against them.
Pep admitted that his side were nervous against Wolves and it looks like they are struggling with the pressure that Liverpool are putting them under. When they play before Liverpool each week they tend to win, when following up a Liverpool result they’ve been beaten twice. If memory serves Klopp complained when Liverpool consistently played after Man City last season but that’s something he’ll have to deal with until November when these two clubs meet at Anfield.
On January 29th John Cross of the Mirror wrote that Newcastle had ‘caused one of the biggest upsets of the season and effectively made it Liverpool’s title to lose’ following City’s 2-1 defeat there. A victory in that game would have cut Liverpool’s lead to one point when it had previously been seven. Despite that gap and then subsequently losing the Newcastle match when they could have all but caught up City did of course go on to take the title. The significance of the current eight point lead then, with 30 games to go still, may not therefore be as significant as it appears at the moment.
Before Guardiola and Klopp lock horns again next month their teams have a very contrasting run of fixtures ahead of them. Both have Champions League and EFL Cup obligations to come so neither has the advantage there. However, while City will take on Palace, Aston Villa and Southampton, Liverpool will play Manchester United and Tottenham as well as Villa. Luckily for Liverpool United and Tottenham are terrible right now but that doesn’t mean that points can’t be dropped whereas we would ‘expect’ that City get nine from nine.
After the two sides meet in April their run-ins are also a class apart in terms of difficulty. City have fixtures against Southampton, Newcastle, Brighton, Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich to complete the season. Liverpool will have to take on Chelsea and Arsenal in two of their last three matches for their part. City could win at Anfield next month, we wouldn’t expect them to right now but it is possible. Avoiding defeat and staying in touch until their injury worries ease or the transfer window opens would mean that they are still in contention in this title race.
The win for Liverpool on Saturday was a big one, beating Leicester who we’ve backed for the League Cup, is always going to be a good result. It is also the hallmark of title winning sides to grind out results like this, along with the Sheffield United and Chelsea victories before. Having backed Liverpool at 3/1 pre-season this is good news. Playing Devil’s Advocate though, having to win in the fashion they are could be indicative of problems down the line, especially when the genuinely big matches come along. If you really wanted to quibble you could throw in their Champions League campaign so far as a reason to not start counting our winnings just yet.
City have been dealt a body blow but the referee’s count has only just begun, after all it is only October. Still it is advantage Klopp and Liverpool and we can’t wait for the international break to finish so that domestic hostilities can be resumed.
Published on: Oct 7, 2019 @ 08:20