Manchester City v Liverpool: The Premier League’s title-deciding duel involves razor-thin margins

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Manchester City set new Premier League records in 2018 by scoring 106 goals and accumulating 100 points. Liverpool finished fourth, 25 points behind the leaders.

Manchester City v Liverpool: The Premier League's title-deciding duel involves razor-thin margins

However, there has been very little interaction between the teams since then. They’ve now won three Premier League titles between them – two for City and one for Liverpool – and one of them is very certain to win another this May.

They’ve only been separated by a single point in each of these four seasons, the same margin that separates them in the table after 30 games this season.

City leads Liverpool by a single point with 338 points after 144 games. If the Reds get an advantage in this area when they meet on Sunday at Etihad Stadium, it might be crucial in the title battle.

They each have eight league games left this spring, including this weekend’s matchup.

So, with the teams appearing to be so evenly matched, who is the most likely to win the championship, what has been the difference between them, and what might give one side the edge this year?

Manchester City v Liverpool: The Premier League's title-deciding duel involves razor-thin margins

Is Man City’s home advantage crucial?

Manchester City, according to data analysts Nielsen Gracenote, is the finest team in Europe right now, followed by Liverpool.

City are Gracenote’s Premier League favorites, thanks to their high standing and the fact that they are playing at home on Sunday. City has a 61 percent chance of winning the title, compared to 39 percent for Jurgen Klopp’s side, according to their Euro Club Index.

However, as you might anticipate, the outcome of Sunday’s match might have a significant impact on both clubs’ hopes.

If Pep Guardiola’s team wins, their chances of capturing the cup rise to 86 percent, while Liverpool’s fall to 14 percent.

However, if Liverpool wins on the road, they will be the clear favorites, with a 68 percent chance of winning first, compared to City’s 32 percent.

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Manchester City v Liverpool: The Premier League's title-deciding duel involves razor-thin margins

If the two teams draw, the current scenario will remain same, with City’s chances of becoming champions increasing slightly to 63 percent and Liverpool’s at 37 percent.

Is Liverpool’s assault capable of making the difference?

Liverpool’s progress this season – they finished third, 17 points behind City in 2020-21 – is partly owing to avoiding the injuries that derailed their last campaign, but it’s also due to their attacking skill.

According to Gracenote data, they are presently taking more shots than they have in any of Klopp’s prior six seasons in charge. In 2021-22, Liverpool has attempted 557 goals, an almost 30% rise over the same period previous season and their most since the German took over in 2015.

For the first time since Guardiola’s first season in the Premier League, Liverpool’s attack is more potent than City’s, creating more opportunities and requiring fewer shots to score.

In what ways do both sides distinguish from the crowd?

A glance at the statistics since the start of the 2018-19 season, when this rivalry truly became the Premier League’s title-defining rivalry, reveals a lot about how the two sides have distanced themselves from their opponents.

It’s no surprise that City and Liverpool are the top scorers throughout that time, with 350 and 319 goals respectively – Manchester United’s tally of 253 is far behind in third place. They also have the best defenses: City has conceded 108 goals, Liverpool has conceded 117, and Tottenham has conceded 167.

So, how did these attacking and defensive records improve so dramatically from the previous season – and from the rest of the league?

They allow the fewest shots and take the most, frequently from the most dangerous positions. Both had average shot distances of less than 14.6 meters, the division’s shortest.

According to FBref data, the aggregate amount of shots taken in the Premier League has steadily decreased by roughly five shots per game over the last decade. This is due to the rise of analytics like as anticipated goals, which emphasize the futility of taking long-range, low-percentage shots all of the time.

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Manchester City v Liverpool: The Premier League's title-deciding duel involves razor-thin margins

They are once again the top two defensive teams in terms of surrendering the fewest shots this season. In 30 games, City has only allowed 67 shots on target, including one at Burnley last weekend. With only 83 goals allowed, Liverpool is in second place, with Watford allowing just two on Saturday.

Passing and squeezing their way to the championship?

Because both teams have so much possession, their opponents can be stifled, and there isn’t much to choose between them in this regard. However, despite the fact that City has completed more passes (91,644 over the last four seasons compared to 79,683 for Liverpool), the Reds are really ahead in terms of progressive passing.

This means Liverpool has advanced the ball more than 98 kilometers closer to their opponent’s goal so far this season, compared to a little over 91 kilometers advanced by City’s passes. Over the last four seasons, Liverpool has led by more than 19 kilometers in this area.

As a result, the Reds advance the ball faster, and the statistics below reveal that they are more prone to make long passes.

How they play their passes in 2021-22
Short (%)Medium (%)Long (%)
Man City414415
Liverpool374419

Goalkeepers and goal-kicks are responsible for a large number of these long balls. Liverpool has launched 40-50 percent of goalkeeper possessions and has a 36.6-meter average goal kick length, whilst City’s goal kicks have consistently decreased in length from 43 meters in 2018-19 to just over 23 meters this season. Guardiola appears to place a greater emphasis on ball possession than ever before.

Aside from goal kicks, the number of crosses into the box is another sort of pass that City has changed this season. Liverpool has produced the second-highest number of crosses, while City has risen from 12th place last season to first so far this season. That’s a significant change.

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Both sides are recognized for their tireless work ethic, although City is more passive when it comes to regaining possession. For the third year in a row, they have had the fewest pressing actions in the league.

This is due in large part to the fact that their opponents hold the ball less often, giving City fewer opportunities to reclaim possession. However, Liverpool is the best in pressing in the offensive third, while City is fourth.

With the margins being so close this season, the two teams’ second league match will be crucial.

Manchester City has had the upper hand over the last four seasons, winning three and drawing three of the seven encounters while leading the score 14-8.

Ederson vs Salah

City has also gone undefeated against Liverpool at the Etihad during these seasons – the last time Liverpool won a league game there was in 2015 before Guardiola took over.

But this is football, and turmoil will always be a part of the game. While the analytics may suggest that City will have an advantage going into the final games, there are still wildcards to be played. However, the caliber of opponents remaining to be encountered favors City.

Both teams have European fixtures to contend with, where winning or losing can affect confidence, as well as the psychological impact of facing each other in the FA Cup semi-finals on April 16.

Because of the cup runs, each team must schedule a rescheduled league game. Wolves will host Manchester City on an undetermined date, while Aston Villa will host Liverpool on May 10th.

While all eyes are on Sunday’s match, might the Reds’ former captain be the one to deny them the title?

Manchester City v Liverpool match time and date:

The match will take place on April 10th, 2022 at 10:30 am CT.

Venue: VENUE: Etihad Stadium

What’s your prediction?

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