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Man City or Liverpool? Are the bookies title odds wrong?

17th April 2019

 

Liverpool or Manchester City, Manchester City or Liverpool - this has been the nature of the Premier League title run since before Christmas and one of these clubs will be crowned league champions come May.

For Manchester City winning the league has become common of late - this could be the clubs 4th Premier League title in six seasons. Before that City had to endure 44 years without title glory, which makes Liverpool's drought seem not as bad as you've heard. The Reds of course have not won a league title since 1990 and consequently have never won the league since the renaming to the Premier League.

Liverpool have been close to securing league titles under Rafa Benitez and Brendan Rodgers in seasons past but despite playing glorious attacking football (can anyone forget how they made Arsenal look like a Sunday pub team in 2014 when they were 4-0 up at half time)? The truth is that they have always lacked that extra gear to step up and make it count. This season under Jurgen Klopp they look different and this title looks like it will go down to the last ball kicked and the last whistle blown.

The ball of course is in Manchester City's court, as they would be guaranteed the title if they don't drop any more points between now and the end of the season, and the bookmakers seem to agree. Manchester City are favourites, priced at 1.80 to take the title, and Liverpool can be backed at 2.10. However we're not convinced the bookies have this one correct when you take into account the difficulty of the remaining fixtures for both clubs.

So let's take a look at the remaining fixtures for each club and try and see where the potential banana skins lie on a rollercoaster track that has had plenty of ups and downs and could well be saving itself for the grandest of 360 degree turns in the coming weeks. We will assign difficulty ratings out of 5, with 1 being very easy, and 5 being very difficult.

 

Round 35

Manchester City vs Tottenham

City will face a tricky tie against Tottenham in the Champions League 2nd leg quarterfinal this week, therefore there is a question of psychology with this upcoming League match – as it's a repeat fixture against Tottenham at The Etihad. Look at the scenario - if City knock Tottenham out of the Champions League, Tottenham will be seeking a quick fire revenge, if anything they will make the league game harder. If City lose to Tottenham in Europe, Pep Guardiola will likely make sure they don't make the same mistake twice, or will it have a negative affect on their confidence. It is an utterly fascinating two matches that we have in store, and neither will be easy.

Difficulty rating = 4/5

 

Cardiff vs Liverpool

Liverpool on the other hand have a far more comfortable Champions League 2nd leg quarterfinal this week against FC Porto, which should have little influence when they play Cardiff on Sunday, who are massive odds on favourites to be relegated and join Huddersfield and Fulham. Odds being quoted are 1/33. Neil Warnock's side will be at home, but they have either had poor form or poor luck. Witness the Chelsea match here a few weeks ago when they looked to be heading for a 1-0 victory until an offside refereeing decision didn't go their way and they ended up losing the game 2-1 with minutes left. But witness also losing 2-0 against Burnley last weekend where they managed just 2 shots on target the whole game despite the desperate position they are in.

The Bluebirds have lost 55% of games at home and at this level that is evidently too much and Liverpool will be the heavy favourites to win that game.

Difficulty rating = 2/5

 

Round 31

Manchester Utd vs Manchester City

Manchester City do have one distinct advantage over Liverpool which is their game in hand, and, the club will get to play that on Wednesday, April 24th. If all goes to plan and both sides win their weekend games, the whole of the footballing world will be tuning into City's extra game. It has added spice since it is against Manchester United and it is at Old Trafford.

United have been rejuvenated under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, though one cannot ignore since the Norwegian signed his full time 3 year contract that United have looked under par. And yet they will have the chance to effectively hurt their great rivals title chances. However it is utterly questionable who United dislike the most, City or Liverpool? Let's say both in equal amounts. United could take the view that another City league title is just that - and that Liverpool winning the league is much more significant. It was only a few years ago that a jubilant Sir Alex Ferguson was gloating when United 'knocked Liverpool off of their perch' his when United passed Liverpool's record for English league title wins.

Of course this doesn't mean that United will lie down for City, because they won't. Whether they will put in a 110% display is questionable, but at the same time they need points and wins if they are going to participate in next seasons Champions League, and that will likely be the driving factor for the teams performance.

Difficulty rating = 4/5

 

Round 36

Liverpool vs Huddersfield

Back to Liverpool and two days after the United derby they will play Huddersfield at Anfield. By this stage if everything has worked out for City they could be 1 point ahead in the league, if not Liverpool have one hand on the title and playing the poorest side in the league at home is kind of like having your birthday fall on Christmas Day, being showered with presents and winning the lottery all in the same morning. With all due respect to Huddersfield, Liverpool may invent a new way of winning against them and scoring less than 3 goals in the nature of what has come before would be the biggest shock in that game.

Difficulty rating = 1/5

 

Burnley vs Manchester City

That same weekend City will travel to Burnley in a match that should be another 3 points for Guardiola's team, however visiting Turf Moor is never a formality. Sean Dyche's side look safe at this stage in the season so in a few weeks time could have even more points and they will have little to play for against a side who will be determined.

Difficulty rating = 3/5

 

Round 37

Newcastle vs Liverpool

The following week opens up something rather interesting and we must cast our minds back to a Tuesday night on January 29th at St. James' Park to fully understand what could happen on May 5th at the same venue. Back in January despite going behind within 60 seconds of the kick off to a Sergio Aguero goal, Newcastle came back and deservedly won the game 2-1. Manager Rafa Benitez was all smiles, of course he would have been. But he couldn't resist saying that he was happy that his club had done a favour for his ex-team Liverpool. Understandably Benitez has very close ties with Liverpool and that night it was a win-win situation.

With The Magpies practically safe this season what should we expect when Jurgen Klopp and his team turn up to Bentiez's backyard? In no way would one suggest a game being fixed, let's have some credit and respect to the professionalism of the game in England and also for the qualities of both sets of players and managers. But could we suggest that Newcastle will approach the game in a pre-season manner? Despite that, Liverpool are the better team, though it's interesting to note that The Reds have won at St James' just once since 2008.

Difficulty rating = 3/5

 

Manchester City vs Leicester

City will play Leicester at home in their penultimate game of the season and this should be 3 points for City given the home advantage. Leicester are looking good under Rodgers, and had this been at the King Power Stadium it may have been cause for concern, however at The Etihad Manchester City should just be too strong.

Difficulty rating = 3/5

 

Round 38

Brighton vs Manchester City

Manchester City travel to Brighton for their final match of the season. Brighton have been in poor form in 2019, and the recent performance of Cardiff could mean that by this stage Brighton are still relegation candidates. This could make things tricky for City assuming they need the win to secure the league title, Chris Hughton's side at least on paper will not be able to live with Guardiola's.

Difficulty rating = 2/5

 

Liverpool vs Wolves

As for Liverpool they will have one more game to play, which will be at home to Wolves who have already caused some surprises this season. The reverse fixture earlier in the season ended 2-0 to Liverpool and it wouldn't be a surprise to see a similar score line again. Liverpool look just too strong at Anfield to drop points in this game.

Difficulty rating = 2/5

 

In Conclusion

In terms of remaining fixtures, we certainly don't see Liverpool dropping more points now, their remaining matches have an average difficulty rating of 2/5, which is significantly kinder than City's average of 3.2/5. This certainly makes Manchester City far more likely to drop points before the end of the season, and therefore in our eyes outsiders for the title despite their current points advantage.

This league is shaping up to be one of the closest and most exciting in years. Anything can happen, and key injuries and one of if not both clubs going out of Europe could also have a psychological knock on effect.

As it stands credit needs to be given to Klopp - yes he has spent a ludicrous amount of money this season but he also identified the clubs positional problems and what had to be rectified when he splashed the cash on Alisson and Neiby Keita and had bought Virgil van Dijk at the beginning of 2018, playing his proper first full season with the club now. Up front Liverpool have great depth because if Mohamed Salah is not lighting up the league like he did last term even though he has done well, Sadio Mane has stepped up and has scored 17 goals. In short the club have not missed Phillipe Coutinho.

As for City, the emergence of Raheem Sterling as a genuine world-class player cannot be underestimated. He is the difference when Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are not firing on all cylinders. The likes of Fernandino and David Silva rocks with stardust in their midfield attacking boots need to keep injury free and despite all of the glory and quality in both sides a little luck is needed at times too.

Squeaky bum time has never felt more apparent, may the best team be holding aloft the Premier League trophy on May 12th.



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