Can Manchester City hold onto their narrow lead?

13 Mar

This is a guest post from Jon Hawkins.

Liverpool’s draw away to Everton ensured that Manchester City once again had the edge in the title race, and they now hold a one point lead over their title rivals. This season has already seen many twists and turns in the title race, don’t be surprised if there are a couple more to come.

In the last 10 years of Premier League football, there have only been two occasions when a club has been top at Christmas and failed to win the league. On both occasions, it was Liverpool. Despite the jubilation of overtaking Manchester City to reach top spot by Christmas, there must have been some Liverpool fans who were wary of their unwanted record.

Manchester City are the odds-on favourites in Betfair EPL betting odds, but with just eight league fixtures left in the season, can City hold firm to deny Liverpool their first Premier League title?

The Run-In

Liverpool and Manchester City face a similar level of difficulty when it comes to their final eight games. If you had to pick a side with the easier run-in, Liverpool would be the one to pick, with four of their remaining eight league fixtures being at home. City have three at home and also face a tough trip away to neighbours Manchester United.

Both clubs host third-place Tottenham and travel to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham. Liverpool have the fortune of hosting the league’s basement club Huddersfield Town as well as travelling to league strugglers Cardiff City and Southampton.

The only positive for Manchester City is that by taking on clubs who are hovering around mid-table, they have teams who are unlikely to have anything to play for. Liverpool on the other hand have clubs who are fighting for their lives and it is often the case that one or two league strugglers pick up some surprise results in the latter stages when the pressure is on.

Injuries in the squad

Manchester City have suffered from many injuries this season, in particular to Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian midfielder was incredible last season and cruelly missed out on most of the first half of the season because of a knee injury. He picked up a hamstring injury in the game against Bournemouth and manager Pep Guardiola said he could be out “for a while”.

While City lose a midfielder, Liverpool look set to get one back, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looking likely to return to action for the Under-23s on Friday. The England midfielder has been side-lined for almost a year since he picked up a knee ligament injury in April 2018.


City’s blip in December has injected real interest into the last few games of the season. They’re not invincible and another blip could see them fail to successfully defend their Premier League title.

You’d expect City to win the majority of those games, but with FA Cup and Champions League games still to play, the pendulum could well swing in Liverpool’s way if fatigue sets in.

But Liverpool’s recent downturn in form has proven that they too are not invincible. Reds’ boss Jürgen Klopp needs to keep his players motivated and remind them that this club has slipped up before and they need to buck the trend. With the second leg of their Champions League tie against Bayern Munich still to play, Klopp may see elimination as a blessing in disguise. But if he believes his squad can complete a historic double, he’ll no doubt try his hardest to get the Reds firing on all cylinders.

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