If Manchester City win the Premier League it could be Pep Guardiola’s most crowning success

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What a season it has been in the English Premier League a two way tussle for the league title has been between Manchester City and Liverpool for the past 5 months and they can barely be separated as we come into the last 4 games of the season. Just who will win the league?

Manchester City as champions remain the bookmakers favourite to retain their crown, but the public seem to be swaying for Liverpool, maybe it is the better story, since the Reds have not won a league title since 1990. Indeed the last time Liverpool won the league the Premier League in its current format did not even exist.

Manchester City can go a long way to knowing if they will be crowned champions by beating Manchester United tonight in the derby. Liverpool are currently in first place with 88 points and are 2 points clear of City- but City have this game in hand and could move one point clear at the top with just three games left to play.

It is incredible to think that if City and Liverpool win all of their remaining games that Liverpool would end up on 97 points and still lose the league title. The teams have really pushed each other to the extent that they have improved each other too in what has been an incredible title run in. We are not seeing such runs in in La Liga where Barcelona are close to wrapping up another title, in France and Italy the league champions were known this past weekend with PSG and Juventus respectively winning their leagues. But in England this one looks like going down to the wire.

In that respect one could fathom that this title if it is to be City’s would be Pep Guardiola’s hardest title he has ever won. Let’s face it with Barcelona and Bayern Munich there was never much of a challenge. Sure Real Madrid lurked in the back but were half the team they have been in the past few seasons and at Bayern there seemed to be even less of a challenge.

Even last season in the EPL City romped home to a league title with weeks and games to spare winning the league by almost 20 points. But this season has proved differently and in short a Guardiola team has never had to be this consistent and relentless to win a title. It is why if City win it wouldn’t be a shock despite Guardiola’s bulging trophy cabinet and even all of those glorious Champions League wins at Barcelona if he was to say that this was the hardest trophy to win and with that the most crowning success of his career.

Guardiola isn’t just trying to achieve dreams at City this season by winning back to back titles he is also trying to quash the ultimate one for Liverpool, this is taking its fullest psychological toll on both himself and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. The story continues tonight and then again at the weekend for the right to be called the new champions of England, and what a story it has been.

 

Why Liverpool should prioritise the Champions League

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Ask Jurgen Klopp to choose between winning the Premier League and the Champions League, and he’s unlikely to give you a definitive answer. It’s a decision the Liverpool manager may have to make soon, though.

With the season in its final stages, Liverpool find themselves as serious contenders for both trophies. Their win over Porto over two legs has set up a semi-final meeting with Barcelona. Meanwhile, in the Premier League, they find themselves top of the table, two points clear of Manchester City with four games left to play.

Not since 1984 have they found themselves in this situation. They finished that campaign as English champions and European champions.

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EPL Game of the Weekend – Liverpool vs Chelsea

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Sport has many different forms, of course – competitive, friendly, amateur, professional – as well as different disciplines of course such as tennis, rugby, basketball and of course football. One thing every sport shares is that it really takes that special something to crown a champion. Patty Berg – record holding female PGA golfer – once stated “what does it take to be a champion? Desire, dedication, determination, concentration and a will to win.” Apt words indeed, and words which could well be applied to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side as they maintained their pursuit of a first-ever Premier League title by beating Chelsea 2-0 at Anfield on Sunday. The Reds have looked sublime this season, but this game showed a grit and determination lacking in recent years.

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Is it Safe to go without Mohamed Salah in the Premier League Run-in?

After 33 games played, Mohamed Salah was the highest scoring player in the official
Fantasy Premier League game with 216 points. The closest rival to the Liverpool man
was Raheem Sterling on 201. Despite this impressive tally and dominance of the game,
a lot of fantasy managers still see this season as a let-down compared to Salah’s debut
campaign at Anfield. Now, some players are questioning whether it might make more
sense to go without Salah for the remaining fixtures and use the spare funds to
strengthen in other areas. Is this a risky option, or could it make the difference
between winning and losing a mini-league?

There is no Denying the Egyptian’s Explosive Potential

Liverpool still have it all to play for in a title race which is going to go right down to the wire. The Reds need to win all of their remaining games and hope that quadruple-chasing Manchester City slip up at some point. As of the 7th of April, Jürgen Klopp’s men can be backed at 6/4 with Betway, while the Champions can be found at 8/15. For this reason, the Egyptian star is likely to be selected by Klopp in every single game despite the fact that the Merseyside outfit are also competing in the Champions League. Salah managed to bag himself 32 goals and 12 assists in the 2017-18 campaign, which has made his 18 goals and ten assists after 33 games seem like slim pickings this time out. Those figures, however, are still exceptional and are superior to Eden Hazard’s returns in each of his seven seasons at Chelsea.

The main problem with ditching Salah is the player’s potential for explosive returns. He has registered more than ten points in seven matches this season, and scored a hat-trick on one occasion. With Salah still being in 36 percent of all teams, a huge haul could represent major drops in rank for those who don’t have the player in their sides. And for people who still have the triple captain chip in hand, there is the temptation to deploy the tactic for Liverpool’s home game against already relegated Huddersfield Town on the 26th of April. If the tricky speedster hits form before then, a lot of fantasy managers without the player are likely to be hiding behind sofas during that match.

The other side of the Salah argument is the fact that those who hold him have tied up a significant amount of funds in the player. The £13.2 million outlay for the 26-year-old could maybe be put to better use if redistributed in other areas of fantasy teams.

Sadio Mane Represents a Cheaper Alternative

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Because Sadio Mane is a whopping £3.1 million cheaper than his attack partner, a large portion of managers have chosen to opt for the Senegal international instead of Salah in recent weeks. Those who signed the player before gameweek 23 reaped the rewards, as he hit top form and bagged nine goals and one assist in the nine games that followed. This red hot streak makes Mane look like an even better option in the Liverpool attack than Salah at present, but the one downside is the fact that he also has a history of going on dry spells. Between gameweek five and twenty, the player who can be purchased for £10.1 million only registered attacking returns in three games.

Another major option in midfield is Salah’s title rival Raheem Sterling. The England international is already in a high proportion of squads and on current form represents a more attractive asset than the Egyptian. The only problem is City manager Pep Guardiola’s penchant for rotation. Sterling has missed four games this season to rest for important games, and with the Champions League in its final stages he is likely to sit out some of the easier top flight matches to stay fresh for Europe.

With all things considered, those managers who still have Salah should probably hold on to him in case he brings in a big haul. But for people without him, Mane could be the better choice in the Liverpool attack and signing him can free up funds to be used elsewhere.

Klopp finds a new, exciting role for Henderson at Liverpool

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Midway through Liverpool’s routine win over Porto on Tuesday evening, Jordan Henderson did something that goes against his nature; he played the ball forward.

That may seem a little bit cruel on the Liverpool captain, but it’s something that he’s needed to add to his game for some time. Deployed in a deeper role for the Reds, and England, Henderson has adapted his game in recent years. Rather than playing as the box-to-box midfielder, he was once was, he’s been asked to sit back and dictate tempo.

That has often led to Henderson playing it safe, preferring to pass the ball backward or sideways and leaving the defense-splitting passes to those in front of him. As a result, criticism has often been forthcoming. Continue reading

EPL Game of the Weekend – Southampton vs Liverpool

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When Virgil van Dijk took to the pitch at St. Mary’s on Friday evening, memories came flooding back (both fond and otherwise) of when he would turn out at the venue on a regular basis. This time, however, he was wearing the purple of Liverpool’s away kit – and few would have argued going into the game that the end result would be anything other than an away win. Southampton are not a bad side, but they have really struggled to find their feet for much of the season. Despite improving well under the guidance of Ralph Hasenhüttl, Liverpool are a title-chasing side who cannot afford to slip up as they take on current champions Man City in the final furlong. In the end, what occurred was an absolute cracker, and the second game of the week in a row to feature Jurgen Klopp’s men.

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Liverpool or Manchester City for the Premier League title- The Run in is analysed

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Liverpool have just 6 games left to play in the Premier League and Manchester City have 7 games as the league nears the end. Who will win it out of these two? Liverpool have the advantage of a two point lead but of course City have that extra game which is in theory away to bitter rivals Manchester United, so not an easy one. We look below to see who could end up winning the league.

Manchester City:

Cardiff- The first team Manchester City will play on their quest for back to back titles is Cardiff. City are at home where they have lost just once this season and will be massive favourites to beat 18th placed Cardiff. At the same time Cardiff are fighting for survival, but City will have too much quality for them and should win  3pts.

Crystal Palace- After the Cardiff game City will be involved in the FA Cup and Champions League before facing Palace in mid April. This could be a tricky tie as we all remember Palace beating City at the Etihad 3-2 in a stunning result. Whilst there will be scares along the way City should be able to squeeze past Palace in a very nervous game. 3pts.

Tottenham Hotspur- This match is bizarre scheduling given that just 3 days earlier the two teams would have clashed in the 2nd leg of the Champions League. By this point depending if City have beaten Tottenham in that competition we think City could be physically drained and we will back the draw for this match. 1pt.

Manchester United- Two very difficult games against top 4 sides and that could be the key to whether City win the league or not. They will be away to their biggest rival. At the same time let it be known that United will not be partial to help Liverpool win the league. City will save themselves over the Tottenham game for this one, and we have seen cracks in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, so we will go with the away win. 3pts.

Burnley- The way Cardiff are playing it could make survival easier for Burnley by this point and the players could be switched off against  a very motivated City side. Not only do we expect a win but there could be quite a few goals too. 3pts.

Leicester- Leicester have been confident under new coach Brendan Rodgers but what are they really fighting for 7th place? The truth is that this is another home game for City who should be able to outclass Leicester. Rodgers is ex Liverpool so will tell his players to give everything for this game but expect City to just pip them. 3pts

Brighton- Brighton will be more than safe by this point and that is why we should see a calm game where City ease to a professional victory, we can’t see City losing any more games this season and this should be another win. 3pts.

 

Liverpool:

Southampton- No one is saying it but the game against Southampton will be key to Liverpool’s title chances. The Saints are in great form and can give Liverpool a tough game. We think they can beat them, as Liverpool tend to underrate them. 0pts.

Chelsea- Chelsea look very weak defensively against the better teams and given this match is an Anfield we expect Liverpool to win. But it is also a game where Chelsea can be dangerous and do have the quality. But Liverpool should have enough. 3pts.

Cardiff- It looks like Cardiff will be going down, could they be down or be on the edge by this match? If so Liverpool can come here and score quite a few goals. We think either way they will win fairly easily. 3pts.

Huddersfield- No disrespect to Huddersfield but this game at Anfield has the potential to be a cricket score. They are already down and Liverpool should still be in the hunt for the league title. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Liverpool hit six goals in this match. 3pts.

Newcastle United: Another sure fire 3pts. Rafa Benitez will ensure that Newcastle don’t exactly have their gear sticks on 6, as he will want his former club to win the league. Plus Newcastle are very safe and can’t really significantly move up the table. 3pts.

Wolves: Wolves have been fantastic this season but have still struggled on the road and we expect  Anfield to be a show of emotion whether Liverpool still have a chance of the league or not, and this will be a battering ram of a performance by them. 3pts

After totalling up the points we have the final league looking like this:

1st Manchester City 96pts

2nd Liverpool  94pts

 

 

EPL Game of the Weekend – Liverpool vs Tottenham

liverpool-tottenhamWhen a weekend of Premier League action sees some unusually uniform results, it can be difficult to choose a “Game of the Weekend” from the bunch, and depends largely on your criteria. Perhaps Southampton’s 1-0 win at Brighton stands out for you, if for no other reason than it was the only game with less than two goals. If you are a fan of Crystal Palace or Leicester then no doubt you would have been pleased to see your beloved side record a home win, or maybe Everton fans could be the happiest as they won away from home with a clean sheet at West Ham – the only side other than Man City to do so. Of course, if a game could have more of an impact on the progressing season, there can surely be little argument that Liverpool taking on Spurs tops the bill.

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Focus turns back to the EPL title race this weekend

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Like any good story, there are sure to be plenty more twists in the tale of the title race over the next seven weeks.

It’s looking very likely that the matter may only be decided on Sunday, May 12th, the final matchday of the Premier League season.

As we approach the end of the last international break during this league campaign, the players and managers at Liverpool and Manchester City will be gearing up for that final sprint.

They will know all too well that whoever can hit the ground running in the best possible manner this weekend will carry an advantage that may be hard for their opponents to overcome between now and May.

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If Liverpool win the Premier League it will be down to Sadio Mane and Alisson

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Liverpool have not been as close to winning the league- their first real chance since 1990 as they are this season. Can it be done, could they really do it? Make no mistake Liverpool want this much more than the Champions League, as they have had to wait 29 years to claim another title.

There are two players that have been brought into the club by manager Jurgen Klopp that have appeared to make all the difference. One is Sadio Mane who was bought for £34m from Southampton in 2016 and the other is Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson who smashed the goalkeeper transfer fee last summer as Liverpool splashed out an initial £56m which will rise to £66m and will make him the worlds most expensive goalkeeper.

While the figures seem crazy for a goalkeeper we have to consider how Alisson’s arrival has hugely helped the Reds this season. Liverpool have conceded 18 goals which is the best record in the league, only Manchester City come close having conceded 21. At Anfield the record is even more remarkable as the club have only conceded 9 goals.  But here is the real stat that would whet any fans appetite for a goalkeeper and that is Alisson has kept 17 clean sheets. In short Alisson has been outstanding and has done his job almost flawlessly well.

Another player that has made a major difference is Sadio Mane. Now when we talk about strikers our attentions as far as Liverpool go is going to turn to Mohamed Salah who has been superb for Liverpool since they bought him from Roma, and nobody is going to forget his goals for the club last season. Indeed he has 17 this season and could well end up the top goal scorer once again. But Mane has matched the Egyptian this season that there can be no doubt.

Mane also has 17 goals but his form has been absolutely electric in 2019, as he has been scoring week in and week out. What has been incredible is that he has been scoring in the most important goals in the lead up to the title challenge. Would it be a surprise if Mane was voted the best Premier League player of the season? Win or lose the league Mane may just get the vote.

Jurgen Klopp has spent many millions on bringing in players but at the same time the German also has to be applauded given that he has been able to identify Liverpool’s weaknesses, target the players needed and bring them in. All that remains is winning trophies and with the club still in the hunt for the Premier League title and the Champions League anything could happen.