8 reasons why the Premier League title race is not over despite Man City overtaking Liverpool and Arsenal

Manchester City ascended to the top of the Premier League table on Saturday after a 5-1 demolition of Luton Town. The treble-winners position was then consolidated after Liverpool and Arsenal played their games the following day.

Sunday could hardly have panned out better for Pep Guardiola’s side, as Liverpool fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at home to Crystal Palace before Unai Emery haunted his former side again as Aston Villa raided the Emirates Stadium and left with a 2-0 win.

City are now in pole position, leading Arsenal and Liverpool by two points after 32 matches, and this is often the period when Guardiola’s side home in on their prize.

Indeed, in the title races of 2018-19, 2021-22 and 2022-23 combined, City only dropped two points from their final six games when the title was still been in play. They won 15 out of 16 matches, drawing just once.

City’s experience and ruthless character has led to many pundits concluding that the league might as well hand the title over to Kyle Walker right now and get the party started. But don’t listen to the naysayers; this compelling three-way title race still has plenty to give and is far from over… Here are some reasons:

Two points & six games

Even if the season was heading into the final weekend and City were leading by their current margin of two points, the title race would still be on. So it is absurd to write off Arsenal and Liverpool when the gap is so small and there are still six rounds of games to go.

The Premier League’s history is full of dramatic title collapses. Manchester United were eight points clear with six games left in the 2011-12 season and ended up runners-up to City; Newcastle surrendered a 12-point advantage in 1995-96; and United blew an 11-point lead over Arsenal in 1997-98. Never underestimate the league’s capacity for drama and twists.

Champions League distraction

Arsenal and Manchester City go into this week’s Champions League quarter-final second legs with their fates on a knife edge, and the results for either side could have huge ramifications for the title race.

If City beat Real Madrid and Arsenal go out to Bayern Munich, with Liverpool almost certain to exit the Europa League after their shock 3-0 loss to Atalanta, then Pep Guardiola’s side will have three more matches than their rivals to contend with before the end of the season (both Champions League semi-final legs and Saturday’s FA Cup semi against Chelsea). That would further drain their tired squad in the title run-in.

Equally, another agonising exit from Europe’s top competition could have a huge psychological effect on City and Guradiola, sapping their confidence at a crucial juncture.

Four away matches

It has been remarked that City have the easier run-in of the three title contenders, with Tottenham being their only top-seven opponent (more on that in a second). But out of their final six games, four of them are away from home, and Guardiola’s side are noticeably weaker on the road.

City have failed to win a third of their away games this season, losing three and drawing two out of 15. That form contrasts with their imperious record at the Etihad Stadium, where they have won 13 from 17 league games and are unbeaten in all competitions since November 2022.

City hate playing Spurs

Every side has a bogey team, even City, and if there’s one team that always seems to stick in Guardiola’s craw, it’s Tottenham. Particularly away from home. Guardiola’s first defeat in England came at the old White Hart Lane and he lost his first five visits to the shiny new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium without scoring a goal.

City ended their hoodoo in N17 by knocking Spurs out of the FA Cup in January, but their record there still reads as one goal in six matches. So it’s hardly the ideal place for them to visit in their penultimate game of the season on May 16.

At their limits

City might be able to cope with gruelling fixture lists more than most teams, but the relentless schedule is undoubtedly grinding away at their squad, so much so that Guardiola admitted last Friday that “we’re in big, big trouble.”

Walker has been on the sidelines since getting injured during England duty and is touch-and-go for the second leg against Madrid. John Stones, meanwhile, missed the win over Luton and has been suffering from injuries throughout the season, while Nathan Ake is also currently in the treatment room. Even Ederson has only just returned from a month out.

On the other hand, Rodri, who has played more minutes than anyone else, called to be rested after the 3-3 draw with Madrid, and had his wish granted as he was allowed to sit out the thrashing of Luton.

He is unlikely to get another chance to rest before the end of the campaign, though, and has shown signs of wear and tear. He is not the only one, and as the matches continue to come thick and fast, the players will be tested to their limits.

Haaland slowing down

Erling Haaland brought up 20 league goals for the season by bagging a penalty against Luton, but there is a clear sense that he is not the goal-scoring monster he was last season and teams are working out how to stop him. Haaland has, in fact, often been blamed for the flattest displays of City’s campaign.

As the season reaches its crunch stage at both ends of the table, teams are only going to get more cagey and defend even deeper. That will make life harder for Haaland, who thrives when he has space to run into. And although City have many weapons beyond their cyborg striker, it will inevitably make it harder for them to win games.

115 charges

The shadow of the Premier League’s 115 charges against City for allegedly breaking its financial rules has not gone away and remains a stick with which the club’s rivals can beat them. And there is the real prospect that there is an outcome to the charges which changes the course of the title race.

As Nottingham Forest have been docked four points for breaching the league’s PSR rules and Everton have had a total of eight points taken off them for two separate breaches, City could face a catastrophic punishment.

Even a small points deduction announced before the end of the campaign could hand Arsenal or Liverpool the title. In a worst case scenario, City could be relegated and be stripped of their previous titles.

Experts have warned that it could take at least another year, if not more, to resolve the case given its complexity, but the threat of a snap announcement is not going away

Never been done before
In 135 years of English football, no team has ever won four league titles in a row. Huddersfield Town, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United (twice) have all attempted the feat, but ultimately fallen short.

A City source has told GOAL that the chance to become the first English team to win four consecutive titles has been a huge motivating factor for the squad and made them prioritise the league over defending their FA Cup and Champions League crowns. But do not underestimate how hard it is to boldly go where no team has ever gone before.



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