Premier League Decider: “The upcoming Premier League game is a huge one – we can’t hide from that,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said.
Few would have predicted that Manchester City’s match against Liverpool on April 10 would be such a pivotal match in the title chase in January.
When City beat Chelsea 1-0 on January 15, they were 14 points clear at the top, and despite the fact that Liverpool had two games in hand, it appeared as if Pep Guardiola’s side was in a one-horse race.
Liverpool, on the other hand, has won every Premier League game since then, and their victory over Watford on Saturday moved them to the top of the table, although for a short while.
Indeed, Klopp had hardly taken his seat in the post-match press conference when City scored first against Burnley to reclaim the top spot in the league as it stands.
“So one of your inquiries has previously been answered by City?” Klopp cracked a joke when he sat in, knowing that the majority of journalists’ queries would be focused on the next encounter against City rather than the Watford victory.
Professionals believe the game is massive as well. Former England captain Alan Shearer, ex-Wales captain Ashley Williams, and ex-Scotland striker James McFadden have all stated that the title game next weekend is crucial.
“I think whoever wins that will win the title,” McFadden said to BBC Sport.
It’s no longer possible to ignore the magnitude of next Sunday’s title clash at Etihad Stadium. With both teams having played the same number of games, only one point separates them going into the match.
It would be natural if Guardiola was irritated after watching his team lose a comfortable lead, but the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager is looking forward to the task.
“We’re going to fight,” he declared.
“The opponent is extremely difficult and skilled, but they have stated that we will fight a proper war, which we accept.”
He understands, however, that Manchester City cannot afford any slip-ups, implying that they will need to win all eight of their remaining games to retain their Premier League title.
“Hopefully Liverpool will lose against us, but apart from that, I don’t believe they will drop points,” Guardiola added.
“You must deal with the strain. We’ve done it before [to beat Liverpool to the title in 2019], when we needed to win 14 games in a row. We must now win eight games to be crowned winners; else, we will not be.”
Liverpool, who won the Premier League two years ago, is aiming for a historic quadruple. While City is chasing a possible treble and a fourth league title in five seasons, Liverpool is aiming for an unprecedented quadruple.
They’ve already won the Carabao Cup, and they’re also in the running for the Champions League and the FA Cup, in addition to the league crown.
Klopp continued, “I genuinely respect the situation we’re in.”
“I told the boys yesterday that if someone had told us in the summer that we would be in the position we are in now – in all competitions, with one trophy won and a complete squad available – we would have gladly taken it.
“The only better situation would have been if we were 20 points ahead of City – because we couldn’t be further in cup competitions – but that’s not realistic.”
What to expect
Manchester City will finish the season with home games against Brighton, Watford, Newcastle, and Aston Villa, as well as away games against Leeds, West Ham, and Wolves.
Meanwhile, Liverpool has home games against Manchester United, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Wolves, as well as away games against Newcastle, Southampton, and Aston Villa.
“It appears that Manchester City has a better run of fixtures than Liverpool, but they also have two Champions League games against Atletico Madrid,” remarked former Scotland striker James McFadden.
“It’s a tough run for City at first, but after that it’s a friendlier run than Liverpool’s.
“But I believe it will be next weekend. I believe whomever wins it will win the championship; I don’t see either team falling up after that.”