I love title run-ins. Teams at the top of each league table battle it out, in the final weeks, to earn the title of League Champions. The fixtures get harder and the results get weirder. Early season predictions either seem correct or way off. It gets tense for many people because it is now obvious that the finish line is close.
The English Premier League is a prime example of where to watch for a good title run-in. By the way, we have to appreciate it just for that. Not many leagues have it as close as it is in England. Look at Italy…a whole Serie A…it’s been dominated by Juventus who currently lead by 16 points. The French Ligue 1 might as well start moving the trophy to PSG’s cabinet in Paris. There’s no magic that will stop Barcelona and PSV from becoming kings of Spain and Holland respectively. Plus, Brendan Rodgers has probably collected his Scottish League medal even as he rode off back into the English Premier League, leaving the Celtic players to finish the job. The German Bundesliga looks surprisingly tight, with Dortmund dragging it out with Bayern Munich…but we all know who’s winning that contest.
The English Premier League is different. There are too many instances where you didn’t know who was going for the title. In 2015/2016, it took Hazard’s strike against Tottenham to confirm that Leicester City had won the league…with about 2 games left. It took a dramatic collapse from Liverpool in 2013/2014 for Man City to take the crown and Aguero struck at the very very VERY last minute to win the league trophy in 2011/2012. It may have been obvious last year, with Man City breaking all sort of records to rule England, but Liverpool have been more than just mere contenders this season…which brings us to where we are.
As it stands, Liverpool are no longer top of the table, having looked so comfortable for a number of months. Now, their destiny is no longer in their hands. The draw against Everton seems like a dent in their title hopes. Now they look set to crumble, just like Tottenham have done in recent weeks. But any Liverpool fan that still believes that THIS IS THEIR YEAR, that belief is justified.
Over the next few weeks, the only top 6 team left for Liverpool to play is Chelsea, who have a habit of screwing with title hopefuls. They also have tricky away trips to Southampton and Newcastle so expect a tense end to the season for them. Man City, on the other hand, have just Man United to worry about. I doubt Guardiola would be worried though; United have growing injury problems. However, having beaten Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham since arriving, I’m sure Solskjaer has it in him for a Manchester Derby.
Both teams have to win EVERY game to stand a chance at glory this season. Simple formula but we know that is rarely the case…which makes this another fascinating title run-in. I’m not a fan of any of the teams (my beloved Arsenal has its own race to run) so I’m glad to be a neutral on this one.
It isn’t the first time Guardiola and Klopp have battled for a league title; their time in the Bundesliga threw up some interesting run-ins. But Pep has always seen Klopp off nicely. He did it last season as well. I wouldn’t bet on him losing out now either. He has the advantage. Whatever happens, the next few weeks will be nothing short of electric.