By Max Chaytor
I am sure I wasn’t alone in reacting with pure joy at the weekends’ football results. Liverpool win in injury time, Man Utd and Everton lose (again) and are fighting in and around the relegation zone, and already for the 2nd time this season, Man City lose as well. Scouser and former Liverpool player Conor Coady captained Wolverhampton Wanderers to a famous 0-2 win against City at the Etihad, with Adama Traore scoring a brace. As for Liverpool though, they scraped past Leicester at Anfield thanks to a 95th minute penalty from James Milner, after James Maddison cancelled out SadioMane’s opener for the Reds. It now means that Liverpool are 8 points clear at the top ahead of City in 2nd. It’s only October, but many are saying it is Liverpool’s to lose. But just where can City make up the 8 points needed to catch the Reds?
Although the Reds face Manchester United next in the league, Man City will play Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, and Liverpool fans themselves know the challenges of facing Palace away. And despite Man Utd being in a massive slump in form, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men could turn up for the Old Trafford crowd when their bitter league-leading rivals come to Manchester on October 20th. Man City will have a direct opportunity to potentially claw back 3 points from Liverpool when the two lock horns at Anfield on the 10th November. There is no doubt that it will be a huge game for both sides; however, it is surely a must-win for Liverpool, whereas City would love to return to Manchester with at least a point in the bag. After that, you have to look to 2020 where on paper, Liverpool can drop points and City could gain. The second part of the season is where Liverpool have several tough away fixtures to contend, with trips to Tottenham, Wolves, Everton, Man City and Arsenal all needing maximum points if they want to win their first title in 30 years. City’s 2nd half is a lot easier, with the hardest away games being Spurs, Man Utd and Arsenal.
But as we have already seen in the opening 8 games of the season, any one can beat anyone. Liverpool could already have 2 draws had it not been for Milner’s penalty at the weekend and the mistake from the Sheffield United keeper in the 0-1 win at Bramall Lane. Even last season, City lost 4 games against Crystal Palace, Chelsea, Leicester and Newcastle, but still went on to win the league with 98 points. Consistency is everything, and now Liverpool are looking to win their 18th consecutive Premier League game, they will need to dig deep and try to extend the gap to City even further – these wins will not go on forever. Draws were so costly against the likes of Leicester, West Ham, Man Utd and Everton last season, and the Reds will not want a repeat. Perhaps this is Liverpool’s year, with City’s mounting defensive issues and their lust for a first Champions League potentially distracting them from a 3rd consecutive title win. Liverpool must not take any chances; it could be their last opportunity for a long time to win a league title.