Liverpool are six points clear at the top of the Premier League table after strolling to a 4-0 win against Newcastle at Anfield yesterday, as Manchester City were undone by Leicester and lost 2-1 at the King Power Stadium. Man City’s loss, combined with Tottenham’s 5-0 win against Bournemouth, means Spurs have overtaken the champions and moved into second place.
Liverpool sit top: six points clear of Spurs and seven clear of City. It’s been an unbelievable turn of events, as City have lost twice in a week: against Leicester and Crystal Palace. Liverpool are now in a great position, but they’ll be aware of how quickly things can change. They have two tough fixtures on the horizon, as they host Arsenal on Saturday, before traveling to Manchester to play City next Thursday. After these games, they could be in a great position and be looking at being into double figures in points clear at the top of the table, or they could end up holding the smallest of leads.
Not many would have predicted that Liverpool would hold such a strong position at this stage of the season. Many thought that Man City would comfortably win the title again. Even with the Reds buying well in the summer, it looked as though City would be far too strong for them. But that hasn’t been the case. City have dropped off considerably from their amazing form last season.
At this stage last season, after 19 games, Man City were still unbeaten and had only dropped points on one occasion. They had racked up an unbelievable 55 points. They were already 13 points clear at the top of the table, and almost had the title wrapped up. But right now, they’re 11 points worse off, as they’ve already lost two and drawn three. Liverpool, by comparison, were down in fourth at the same stage. They’d picked up 35 points, and trailed City by 20. So, at this stage this season, they’re 16 points better off. It’s an unbelievable swing.
Tottenham, who now have to be taken into consideration for a title challenge, were fifth at the same stage last season. They had 34 points. They now have 45. How have they managed that? It’s an incredible achievement, after not spending a penny in the summer and not playing a game at their home stadium. They also had more players than anybody else to go deep into the World Cup, which meant their pre-season preparations were hampered. Mauricio Pochettino needs to be given a lot of credit for their brilliant form this season. Their players have really stepped up, and need to be praised for what they’ve done.
Tottenham wouldn’t have even been considered as title challengers earlier in the season. A battle for the top four would have been expected of them, and many would have thought they’d lose that battle after not investing in their squad in the summer, as Arsenal and Chelsea improved their squads and brought in new managers. But that hasn’t been the case, and Tottenham are now seven points clear of Arsenal, who are fifth.
Of course, it’s probably still a bit early to label Tottenham as title challengers. They can’t be ruled out, but it’ll be very difficult for them to stay up there with Liverpool and Man City. The resources the other two have far outweigh Tottenham’s, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the other two strengthened in January, while it would be a surprise if Spurs did. They’ll keep plugging away and see where they end up, but a top four finish would be seen as a successful season for them. Winning a cup should also be a priority for Pochettino, as they’ve been starved of silverware in recent years.
But, back to the other two. Can Man City get going again and get out of this poor run? It’s the first time they’ve really had to try and bounce back in the last couple of years. The pressure is really on them now, and they have to get back to the form that saw them comfortably win the title last season. They play a rejuvenated Southampton next, who have won their last two games under new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl. The Saints play West Ham tonight, and if they win three in a row, they’ll be full of confidence when they face Pep Guardiola’s team.
City then host Liverpool, in a game that they definitely can’t afford to lose. If they do lose it, it could be curtains closed in terms of the title race. Things are getting unbelievably tense now.
It’s quite funny how things are seen in terms of the title race, though. If things were the other way around, and Man City were six points clear, most people would say they have one hand on the title and wouldn’t be stopped. But even though Liverpool are in that position, it’s not seen that way. That’s probably because we’ve seen Liverpool slip away in the past, and we know how good Man City can be. Guardiola’s team could easily go on a 10 game winning streak and get themselves right back up there.
We’ll see how things go over the next week or so. This festive period could go a long way towards determining where the Premier League title goes this season. It promises to be a very exciting second half of the season.
I haven’t been here over the last couple of days, but you knew that I wouldn’t be. Unfortunately, I won’t be around tomorrow either, because I’m in work early in the morning. There isn’t an in-depth article this week either, because I just haven’t got around to getting one together because of the festivities. Sorry about that, but you’ll know yourself how busy things are around Christmas.
I’ll be back with another blog on Saturday morning, as I preview the games for the day. Until then, I hope you enjoy any more Christmas-time activities you’re taking part in. Have a good one!