Photo by Thomas Rodenbücher // CC BY 2.0
Liverpool and Manchester City supporters studying the EPL league table will have vastly differing emotions. Eight games gone, and Klopp’s team are eight points clear. After last season’s nine-month campaign of nip and tuck, they could not have expected this scenario in their wildest, red-tinted dreams. Though no one is doubting the strength of their current position, there are a couple of factors that mean City fans certainly should not lose heart, and the red half of Merseyside should wait a while before booking any open-top bus parades.
Liverpool is currently 6 to 4 on to win the title, and with an eight-point lead already, the game between Liverpool and Manchester City on the 10th November will be absolutely pivotal. That is the match, along with the return fixture on the 4th April (though it is bound to be moved for a TV slot) that could very well determine which part of the North West of England the EPL title spends its summer. The EPL is not a closed bubble though. The teams can do whatever they want against other teams, but the facts remain that they have to face off twice, with six points at stake. In the convoluted maths of football, and the mythical six-pointer, you would have a case for saying there is actually a twelve-point differential around those two game weeks. If those games don’t decide the title, they will certainly have a very strong say in who does.
Liverpool’s Start to the Season
Liverpool have very much carried on from where they left off last season, at least in the league anyway. Eight games, eight wins. Twenty goals scored, just six conceded. They may not have been blowing sides away, but their ability to find that winning goal, such as in the games against Sheffield United and Leicester, a skill they discovered last season, has been the difference. They have played some decent sides as well, with the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and the aforementioned Leicester all failing to take any points from Klopp’s men.
Their much-vaunted forward three have all been firing, with Mané, Salah and Firmino netting five, four and three times respectively, and each weighing in with valuable assists too. Despite Alisson getting injured in their opening fixture and not having featured since, their defensive record remains strong, and if anything they are even meaner at the back than last time out.
Manchester City’s Start to the Season
Photo by Milos Radovanovic // CC BY-SA 3.0
The consistency shown by Liverpool is a far cry from that achieved by City in their first eight games. They have gone from the sublime – the eight nil destruction of Watford, to the ridiculous – the defeats at the hands of Norwich and more recently Wolves. They will go into the game against a high flying Palace with doubts, something a team as imperious as last season’s title winners should not have. Likewise, Crystal Palace will go into it thinking they have a real chance not just of nicking a point but of claiming all three.
For the first time in Pep’s tenure at The Etihad, people are questioning the Spaniard. It may well be the case that the club are targeting the Champions League this year over and above everything else, but they certainly will not want to surrender the title without at least making Liverpool fight every inch for it. City will also be fully aware, as will Liverpool of course, that Liverpool had a similar league last year with a lot less of the season left. Those head-to-heads are looking more and more crucial, so how have the two teams fared against each other in recent years?
Liverpool and Manchester City Head to Head
The teams have played each other 46 times. Of those Liverpool have had by far the better of it, winning 22 times as opposed to 8 by City. 16 games have ended all square. The games from recent years are closer however. Of the last 8 meetings, including this season’s community shield, 3 have ended in a draw. Manchester City have won twice, and Liverpool 3 times. The games are going to be close. They are probably going to be high scoring. They will also more than likely determine the title. We cannot wait.