We paid out on Liverpool to win the Premier League yesterday, but that doesn't mean that all hope is lost for their challengers.
Liverpool’s lack of depth
Liverpool have been unstoppable so far this season, but it’s fair to question how long their form can continue given how little Jurgen Klopp has rotated his side.
While Pep Guardiola makes full use of his deep Manchester City squad, Klopp has stuck with the core players who have gained his trust over the past couple of years.
Liverpool have eight players who have racked up at least 900 Premier League minutes this season. City only have three. City have 17 players who have played 300 minutes or more. Liverpool only have 14.
The Reds’ only blip last season came with during a run of four draws and a defeat in nine league games between January and the beginning of March. That spell saw them fall from seven points clear to a point behind City, and they never regained top spot.
With Klopp’s side soon scheduled to play nine games in 30 days – a run that begins with the Merseyside derby on 4 December – another sticky patch isn’t out of the question.
Even when Liverpool beat Man City 3-1 at Anfield earlier this month, the visitors still dominated the xG, shots and possession metrics.
Those numbers are reflective of the two teams’ performances across the season.
City’s xPts tally of 29.98 dwarfs Liverpool’s 25.80. The champions also comfortably better Liverpool in terms of both shots taken and shots conceded.
Pep Guardiola’s side have a superior goal difference, having scored seven more goals than the Reds and won seven matches (compared to Liverpool’s five) by more than a single goal.
Those statistics all suggest the points gap is more likely to decrease rather than get any bigger over the coming months.
It’s happened before
Liverpool threw away a seven-point lead over City between January and March last season, so an eight-point lead in November is hardly unassailable.
That wasn’t the first time that City have come from behind, either.
In 2012, Manchester United held an eight-point lead over Roberto Mancini’s side with just six games remaining, but couldn’t hold on.
Newcastle sacrificed a 12-point lead in 1995/96 to lose the title to Manchester United, before United chucked away an 11-point lead over Arsenal two years later.
Those collapses prove that it only takes one or two dodgy results for the leaders to lose momentum.
The other contenders
This title race isn’t necessarily only between two teams.
Tottenham, Man Utd and Arsenal are all floundering further down the table, but Leicester and Chelsea currently sit in second and fourth spot – with the current champions between them.
Both those clubs have won the Premier League within the last five years. They also both took points off Liverpool and Man City last season, and have improved since.
So the notion that Liverpool’s victory over City at Anfield cleared a path to the trophy is false. With four challengers still involved, there are plenty more potential title deciders to come.
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