| 5.5°C Dublin

Liverpool and City still in front but it's going to be much tighter

Close

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah holds off Manchester City’s Ruben Dias the at Etihad Stadium on Sunday

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah holds off Manchester City’s Ruben Dias the at Etihad Stadium on Sunday

Getty Images

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah holds off Manchester City’s Ruben Dias the at Etihad Stadium on Sunday

The two best teams in England locked horns at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday - but that does not mean they will finish first and second in the Premier League this season.

Manchester City and Liverpool put on a fantastic show in the opening 45 minutes of their latest heavyweight contest, with the quality and pace of the football we witnessed a sight to behold.

Liverpool had the chances to see off City and their attacking unit, including both Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota, gave them real trouble as they pushed for a win that would have put Jurgen Klopp's champions in a powerful position at the top of the table.

In the end, both sides ran out of steam in the second half, with Klopp and City manager Pep Guardiola admitting fatigue may have played a factor amid the crazy fixture schedule all the top teams are trying to follow at the moment.

Jaded

Jaded players will now be asked to play three games in a short period of times for their national teams and that doesn't seem right after the Covid-related chaos we saw during the last international break.

We saw Trent Alexander-Arnold go down with a muscle injury against City and it was another example of players being pushed to breaking point, with the international matches hard to justify at this moment in time.

It's a recipe that leads me to conclude that the points total needed to win the Premier League title this season will be dramatically down on what we have seen in the last few years.

City won the league with 100 points in 2018, retained it with 98 points from a Liverpool side that finished just one point behind them a year later and Klopp's side collected 99 points as they won the league at a canter last time.

Those crazy totals have become the norm in recent years, but they are not normal, not at all.

The level of consistency required to break the 90-point barrier is phenomenal and amid a season when European matches are being played week after week, players are picking up injuries and shock results have been in evidence time and again, we need to reset the calculators.

I reckon the champions will be crowned with a points total in the mid-80s

Clearly, Liverpool and City are more than capable of reaching that mark, but the difference this year is other teams will fancy their chances of getting there.

My tip to challenge for the title this season are Tottenham and while they are not playing at their best right now, they are winning matches and have a squad capable of going all the way.

In Jose Mourinho, they have a manager who is a serial winner and will fancy his chances of winning the title with a team loaded with top-class performers and with a steal we have not seen from Spurs down the years.

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min will both score 20-plus goals this season and if they can get Gareth Bale anywhere near his best, they will have a chance.

Chelsea are another team to watch and while their defensive flaws may trip them up, they are another team with real attacking firepower.

Impressive

Their lead striker Timo Werner is a player I would like to have seen Liverpool sign last summer and their new boy Hakim Ziyech looked impressive as he showed his ability to boss a game as they beat Sheffield United on Saturday.

Southampton, Aston Villa and Leeds have shown they can trouble the top sides and it means that points will be dropped with far more regularity than we have seen in the last few seasons.

That's great to the neutral and I can't remember the last time when we saw the lead at the top of the Premier League change hands three times, with Southampton, Spurs and Leicester all in first place over the course of last weekend.

I'd still fancy Liverpool and City will be firmly in the mix when the finish straight comes into sight, but it would be good to see some fresh contenders emerging from the pack and spicing up the story at the top of the table.

With some positive news emerging about a possible Covid-19 vaccine yesterday, it would be nice to think we could have some spectators back inside stadiums early in the New Year or maybe even before that.

Dimension

Fans returning - even if we only had stadiums a quarter full - would add a fresh dimension to the Premier League story because players will never get used to watching games in empty stadia and it takes away a huge slice of our enjoyment as fans.

So, let's all look forward to a day in April next year when we have four or five teams in the mix for the Premier League title, some fans cheering them on and some light at the end of the Covid darkness we have all been living through.


Privacy