By AYYAZ MALIK
Premier League leaders Liverpool, carried on their unbeaten start to the League season, to display further evidence that they’re genuine contenders for champions Manchester City’s crown, with an emphatic 3-1 win over 20-time champions Manchester United on Sunday 16 December.
The Anfield side last came close to winning the title, in 2013 where they finished second to Man City. This season Liverpool are currently unbeaten and are the only side in England’s top five divisions yet to taste defeat, and they lead City at the top of the league by a single point.
After blowing away everything before them last season, the citizens (City) haven’t had things they’re own way in the Premier League this season as The Reds have gone toe to toe with Guardiola’s men. Liverpool have managed to avoid defeat to Manchester City, Arsenal, and Chelsea, who in fact defeated City to help the 18 times champions go top of the league.
Last season the Blues dazzled and entertained with their “champagne football’, but came unstuck against Jurgen Klopp’s men domestically and in Europe. This season looks to be arguably the same, especially with the German manager strengthening and spending on his squad heavily, but most crucially intelligently.
The weakness areas of last season, have arguably been addressed with the world record signing for a goalkeeper of Alison from Roma and the arguably extortionate fee for Dutch international defender Virgil Van Dijk, who came from Southampton.
Despite the vast sums paid for both players, both players have no doubt had a positive effect on Liverpool as The Reds have conceded just seven times all season, which was a far cry from last season when Klopp’s men for all their attacking prowess they were far too open too often, which was cruelly exposed in the Champions League final.
As much optimism as there is for Liverpool’s chances for them ending their 28-year title drought, one shouldn’t forget Manchester City are the defending champions of course and before their set back to Chelsea were setting the pace in Premier League title race.
Just like Liverpool, they too impressively swept Manchester United aside 3-1. They defeated Arsenal but crucially fared better than all have at Anfield when Man City claimed a draw and a point due to Riyadh Mahrez’s penalty miss when really it should have been all three.
With the season pretty much halfway through the season, naturally many will say that there are many twists and turns in this title race and it’s arguably foolish to write off Chelsea, Arsenal or Tottenham.
Such an argument would have virtue in theory, but sadly the reality is different. Arsenal, who after 22 years had a change of management, got their season off to the worst possible start with defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea respectively, which on the face of it many would have been expected, especially with the managerial change.
To The Gunners’ credit, however, they have addressed several weaknesses in their team with the signing of Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Uruguayan Lucas Torreira. Yes, Aubameyang may have been signed by former boss Arsene Wenger, but it’s his successor Unai Emery who has fully utilized his goal-scoring prowess alongside that of Frenchman Alexandre Lacazzettee. Unfortunately, with Arsenal, they’re still a little short to mount a sustained title bid just yet, in defence arguably they’re still weak despite the signing of Socrates during the summer, and the match against Southampton was evidence of that.
It’s not much better for Arsenal’s North London rivals Tottenham who were the only side not to make a signing in the transfer window, staggering considering that Spurs are still in contention for trophies on all front this season. As impressive as they have been, sadly the lack of squad depth will inevitably come back to bite, it’s happened in the past.
Which is arguably why London rivals Chelsea will also falter. The Blues just like Arsenal, have also had a change in management, but they initially started the season in impressive fashion and were leading the title race Liverpool, but bad form has seen them slip away badly.
Crucially for Chelsea, they don’t have a goal scoring centre-forward like their rivals and that will most likely cost dearly.
To win titles, the age-old saying is, you have to do the business (win) whilst playing badly, Liverpool have done that on several occasions this year, the Merseyside derby comes to mind.
In contrast, Manchester City lost to Chelsea despite not playing that badly, of course, that’s not the be all and all that happens in December, but dare I say it, this could be Liverpool’s year, but write off Manchester City? Don’t be so naive! Write them off at your peril …..