By Connor Varnish – @cvarn4
Last season’s Premier League title race saw Liverpool tally 97 points, a measly one point less than current crown holders Manchester City.
While rivals in and around the top six have certainly strengthened, Liverpool and City still seem to edge it when it comes to the top two in England. Most would agree the two sides still stand a class above the rest.
Liverpool’s 97 points would have seen them win the league practically every other year outside the last two. To make matters worse, the Reds are now the only side not to win the Premier League after losing just one match across a 38 game season – we couldn’t have been more unlucky to not lift both number nineteen alongside number six last season.
We’re up against a bona fide juggernaut in Pep Guardiola’s Man City. They will no doubt feel like the league is still theirs to retain while still doing everything in their power to finally get a taste of that sweet European glory.
Liverpool’s form last season was incredible, but we must reach new heights if we are to win our first Premier League trophy in the team’s history.
Jurgen Klopp’s team, therefore, has no choice but to build on last season’s success, as City don’t look like slowing down anytime soon. It almost seems unfair to have to make that call to action to Klopp’s Champions League winning side, but it genuinely appears as though City will likely hover around 95+ points again considering they’ve strengthened this summer.
Their signing 25-year-old full-back Joao Cancelo from Juventus takes their spending in this position north of £200m, while defensive midfielder Rodri set them back a cool £62.5m. Also, the Citizens will be hopeful of having a Kevin de Bruyne free from injury this season.
The recent ACL injury of apparently soon-to-be departed Leroy Sane, however, will no doubt be a blow to Pep’s side. The young German was often used as arguably one of the best super subs in the world to strike fear into any tiring defence – so it remains to be seen just how much that will cost City in the long run.
This Liverpool side are still well equipped to take City to the final day once again, despite the doom and gloom seen on social media. Considering we have the deadliest attacking trio in world football, a technical, tireless midfield, all anchored by the best full-backs, central defender and goalkeeper in the world, I’d say we have a better-than-alright chance of lifting a few trophies this season.
30 wins, 7 draws, and 1 defeat need to be bettered to win the Premier League this year, and while some will claim the league was lost against West Ham at the London stadium or at Anfield against Leicester over the winter, I think the league was decided by the head-to-head matchups against Manchester City.
Dropping five out of the possible six points against City last season ultimately ended our title hopes – and the one point we gained was only due to Riyad Mahrez blasting a penalty into orbit in the dying minutes of the game at Anfield.
In a perfect world, Liverpool maintains their form against the other sides this term while matching City’s output against the top six – the showdowns at the Etihad and Anfield will then determine this year’s title winner yet again.
A win at Anfield and a draw at the Etihad may be enough to give Liverpool the advantage in their quest for their first Premier League trophy, just as it did for City last season. We out-performed City against every other opponent in the league, gaining 96 points against the 18 other sides while the Manchester club accrued two less with 94.
We have to be surgically clinical against Pep’s side when we meet again. The two title-deciding matches take place on November 9th at Anfield, and again on April 4th at the Etihad. Will Jurgen’s Reds have enough this time round in these fixtures to come out on top come the end of the season?