Manchester City vs Liverpool: Who Will Win the Premier League?
It looks like we once again have a proper Premier League title race on our hands. After having runaway winners in the previous two seasons it seems like this year it will go down to the final games of the season. On one side of the equation we have the defending champions Manchester City. On the other side we have Liverpool, who are eagerly awaiting their first Premier League title in nearly 30 years. In this article I am going to breakdown the final stretch of the season and explain who I think will be the 2018/2019 Premier League champion.
Both teams currently sit on 65 points, with Liverpool having one less game played giving them a slight edge. However, Manchester City are on incredible form. In two of their previous three league games they dismantled fellow top 6 rivals Arsenal (3-1) and Chelsea (6-0). Liverpool on the other hand have had some unconvincing performances lately. Despite winning their last game 3-0 against Bournemouth, in the two games before that Liverpool had disappointing draws against Leicester City and West Ham. Manchester City also hold a +10 goal differential over Liverpool which could be decisive as goal differential is the tie breaker method if the teams finish tied on points.
Looking ahead at their remaining fixtures Liverpool seem to have a more difficult end to the season. They still have three games left to play against top six teams (Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham), and they also still have to play Everton away in the Merseyside derby. Most of Manchester City’s remaining games are against mid-bottom table teams apart from a home game against Tottenham. Both teams are still in the Champions League, but Manchester City are also still in the FA Cup and have advanced to the Carabao Cup final meaning their attention will be divided over more competitions.
I am now going to give my thoughts on who I think will win and analyze the reasons why. In my opinion Manchester City are going to win the Premier League for the following reasons:
Squad Depth – Pep Guardiola has assembled one of the deepest rosters ever seen. Manchester City has multiple top class players in almost every position. This will give them much more freedom to rotate players without significantly weakening their starting line up. With Manchester City still fighting in four different competitions having the ability to rotate their starters will be crucial as they will be able to keep their players as fresh as possible in the final stretch of the season. This will also minimize the impact of any injuries or suspensions Manchester City might suffer since they have an abundance of talent on the bench waiting to step into the starting lineup if needed. Liverpool unfortunately do not have this luxury. They simply cannot afford to rotate their key starters in the Premier League and Champions League without dramatically hurting their chances.
Experience winning – After Manchester City’s domination of the Premier League last season most of their players know what it takes to win. They also have a number of important veterans, such as: Aguero, Silva, Kompany, that have been around for many seasons and have won multiple Premier League titles. Pep Guardiola has also won league titles in Spain, Germany and England and knows what it takes to win the league. The same cannot be said for Liverpool with most of their big players having not won a major trophy before. We have witnessed what a lack of experience can mean in Liverpool’s catastrophic collapse in the 2013/2014 title race. Although some may point to the fact that Liverpool got to the Champions League final last year, cup competitions are a different type of animal from league competitions. The best example of this is Real Madrid, despite winning the Champions League four of the past five years and reaching the semifinals for eight years in a row Barcelona have won La Liga in most of those years.
Easier schedule – Although in the Premier League any team can beat any other team on a given day, Liverpool just seem to have more potential stumbling blocks remaining. As previously mentioned, Liverpool has significantly more games left to play against top teams. Most of Manchester City’s trickier remaining fixtures are also at home (West Ham, Watford, Tottenham, Leicester City) which also works in their favour.
Liverpool’s dependence on key players – Liverpool are one long term injury to Salah or Van Dijk away from their chances taking a detrimental blow. Liverpool just don’t have the quality in depth to cope with such a loss for an extended period of time. Even though such an injury to a key Manchester City player such as De Bruyne or Aguero would be a significant hindrance they are much better equipped to handle it.
Having said all that don’t get me wrong, Liverpool are still well within this title race and I would not be surprised if they do end up winning. For large stretches of the season Liverpool have been ruthless and confidence should be high as they have been in first place more then any other team this season. Liverpool also have an extra game left to play which could be crucial. It will be pivotal for Klopp to keep the team’s energy high and avoid injuries to important players. Regardless of who ends up winning, this title race promises to be one of the most exciting in years with twists and turns until the very end.