Liverpool thumped Manchester United 4-0 on Tuesday night to go two points clear at the top of the Premier League table, with their title race with Manchester City looking set to go to the wire.
Here, the PA news agency assesses the run-in.
- Apr 20: MAN CITY v Brighton
- Apr 23: MAN CITY v Watford; Apr 24: LIVERPOOL v Everton
- Apr 30: Newcastle v LIVERPOOL 1230, Leeds v MAN CITY 1730
- May 7: LIVERPOOL v Tottenham; May 8: MAN CITY v Newcastle
- May 10: Aston Villa v LIVERPOOL
- May 15: West Ham v MAN CITY
- May 22: LIVERPOOL v Wolves, MAN CITY v Aston Villa
- TBC: Southampton v LIVERPOOL, Wolves v MAN CITY
City have the chance to immediately respond to Liverpool’s win when they face Brighton on Wednesday evening.
They then host struggling Watford on Saturday, meaning they could be four points clear before Liverpool next take to the field for Sunday’s derby at home to Everton.
April 30 sees Liverpool travel to Newcastle in the lunchtime kick-off – much to the chagrin of manager Jurgen Klopp given their midweek Champions League commitments, which come a day later than City’s to boot.
Pep Guardiola’s side take on Leeds at Elland Road five hours later on the Saturday and Liverpool play before their rivals in each of the next two scheduled rounds of fixtures as well, hosting Tottenham on Saturday, May 7 before City face Newcastle on the Sunday.
The Magpies are one of three common opponents remaining for the two teams and another, Aston Villa, host Liverpool on May 10. City currently have no midweek fixture scheduled that week but play away at West Ham on Sunday, May 15, with Liverpool in FA Cup final action that weekend.
The league season concludes on May 22 with City at home to Villa while Liverpool host Wolves. City’s own game away to Bruno Lage’s side is still to be rearranged, as is Liverpool’s trip to Southampton.
Including Liverpool’s clash with United, each side’s final seven fixtures feature four at home and three away.
Of their common opponents, City welcome both Newcastle and Villa to the Etihad Stadium and travel to Wolves, while for Liverpool, that home/away split is mirrored.
That would seem to favour City, particularly as Wolves have gathered more points away from home – 26, ranked fifth in the league – than at Molineux (23). Newcastle, meanwhile are significantly stronger at St James’ Park, while Villa’s 36 points are equally split between home and away games.
Taking the table as it stands following the Liverpool-United game, City’s remaining opponents are also of a lower standing – Brighton, Watford, Leeds and West Ham sit 10th, 19th, 16th and seventh respectively for an average league position of 13th.
While Everton are struggling in 17th, Liverpool also face fourth-placed Spurs and 12th-placed Southampton. That is an average of 11, or 9.5 when including United, who had been fifth at kick-off, in the calculation.
City have a friendlier run-in on paper, the more favourable home/away split against common opponents and more rest around their Champions League semi-final, while Liverpool have an – admittedly welcome – extra game to play in the FA Cup final.
Even if the latter ends up being offset in the Champions League, that will come after the end of the league season – it would also require Liverpool to lose to Villarreal while City beat the seemingly more imposing Real Madrid.
The schedule, then, appears to stack up in favour of City winning a fourth title in five seasons – can Liverpool defy the odds or will they be bridesmaids again?
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