After 26 weeks of English Premier League action, the top two teams in the division – Manchester City and Liverpool – cannot be separated.
Both have accumulated 65 points, with City’s goal difference the only thing keeping them ahead of the Merseyside outfit.
With 12 rounds of matches to go – Pep Guardiola’s men only have eleven however, having played one more than the Reds – it’s all to play for, and the bookmakers can barely split them.
Take a look at the latest Premier League betting odds and we see City installed as the 8/11 favourite, with Liverpool slightly longer at 6/5.
But with Mo Salah and co leading their line, surely Jurgen Klopp’s outfit are serious contenders to the throne?
Perhaps the remaining fixtures will give us the best idea of the destination of the Premier League trophy come May.
Big Rivalries Could Shape the Future
When you look at the assignments facing both teams, it’s difficult not to feel a bit of sympathy for Liverpool.
On back-to-back weekends, they face arguably their two biggest rivals in football – Manchester United and Everton – away from home, with a tough tie against Watford sandwiched in-between.
Scroll further down the fixture list and you see games against Tottenham and Chelsea too, as well as a tough two-legged encounter against Bayern Munich in the Champions League that will surely take it out of their players.
As for Manchester City, fresh from a 6-0 thrashing of Chelsea, they too aren’t without difficult fixtures. They’ll head to Old Trafford in March to take on their city rivals, and a home date with Tottenham late in April is clearly a thorough examination of their quality.
But otherwise, their remaining games look agreeable by anyone’s measure, and their greater resources when compared to Liverpool hands them the edge.
A Question of Depth
Mo Salah won every award going after the 2017/18 campaign, and why not: the Egyptian scored 44 goals and assisted many more as the Reds nearly won the Champions League.
But there is an argument to be made that Jurgen Klopp is overly reliant on his fleet-footed forward, and when you consider that he and Sadio Mane, combined, have contributed 49% of Liverpool’s Premier League goals between them, an injury to one or the other would be catastrophic.
The Reds have netted 15 goals fewer than Manchester City in the league, and their goals per game tally – 2.27 – is somewhat lower than the 2.79 that City plundered in their title-winning effort last season.
So, when you think about it, Liverpool score fewer goals than their nearest challengers and are heavily reliant on just two players; that appears to be a recipe for disaster, and with 12 games still to go may be something that they live to regret.
In defence, City have been bouyed by the news that captain Vincent Kompany will sign a new contract, but it’s in attack where they are at their most intriguing.
Guardiola has five players at his disposal who average 0.5 goals per 90 minutes in messrs Aguero, Sterling, Sane, Jesus and Mahrez. Liverpool have just two regulars who offer that output.
Squad depth is key, and that explains why City are so successful; if Sterling goes out, Sane can come in. Mahrez for Bernardo, De Bruyne for Silva, Jesus for Aguero….the list goes on.
Liverpool, by contrast, will have to rely on the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi should Salah, Mane and co break down in this final third of the campaign.
That is the exclamation mark at the end of the statement that Manchester City should, and probably will win the Premier League this season.
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