It’s unofficial: Man City to pip Liverpool to the title by a single point

Daniel Storey maps Liverpool and Manchester City's path through the remaining games of the Premier League season.

It’s unofficial: Man City to pip Liverpool to the title by a single point

Daniel Storey maps Liverpool and Manchester City's path through the remaining games of the Premier League season.

April 14, 2.05pm - Crystal Palace vs Manchester City

The cliche that Selhurst Park is a difficult ground to visit has been blown away this season. Only Fulham and Huddersfield have taken fewer points at home than Palace, who have actually taken four more points on the road. Three of those were earned in sensational circumstances at the Etihad in December. Either side of that, City have won 20 home games out of 20 by a combined score of 80-8. With Palace surely safe and coasting, City will look to score early and make it comfortable.

Verdict: City win by two goals, move to 83 points.

April 14, 4.30pm - Liverpool vs Chelsea

Liverpool’s hardest remaining league fixture on paper, and Sunday April 14 promises to be an extraordinary atmosphere at Anfield. Not only is this the exact fixture that cost Liverpool their title shot in 2013/14, when Steven Gerrard miscontrolled the ball and then slipped, but the game will be played on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Hillsborough. Win, and Liverpool will surely feel that they can be victorious in each of their league fixtures. But Chelsea have spoiled their fun before, and will have a top-four place to chase.

Verdict: Eden Hazard inspires Chelsea to pick up a point. Liverpool move on to 83 points.

April 20, 12.30pm - Manchester City vs Tottenham

The third in a triumvirate of fixtures between the two teams in the Champions League and Premier League that scream ‘narrative’ at full volume. Tottenham have slumped in late-season due to the fatigue that became inevitable when you blend small squad with long summer, but the ceiling of their potential performance remains incredibly high. Mauricio Pochettino might consider that he has nothing to lose with Spurs expected to lose. If Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli are all fit and start, City must be watchful.

Verdict: Tottenham are fatigued and fold by two goals. City on 86 points.

April 21, 4.00pm - Cardiff City vs Liverpool

Liverpool’s penultimate away trip, and the last one against a team that will have something to fight for. Cardiff’s consecutive defeats to Chelsea and Manchester City have made them overwhelming favourites for the drop, but if they have taken something against Burnley previous weekend then Neil Warnock will urge his team not to give up. But the lowest-ranked team that Liverpool have dropped points against this season is West Ham in 11th, and they are not in the business of getting complacent against weaker teams.

Verdict: Liverpool have too much for a Cardiff team now doomed. Up to 86 points.

April 24, 8.00pm - Manchester United vs Manchester City

A remarkable day to be a Manchester United fan. Your team will be desperate to pick up points that give you a fighting chance of qualifying for the Champions League but victory would most likely hand the league title to your fiercest rivals, the ones you knocked off their perch and spent three decades crowing over. Nothing emphasises the shift in power in Manchester like the results between the two at Old Trafford - United have won just two and lost four of their last eight against City at home.

Verdict: United hold City to a draw, but that’s enough for Pep. City onto 87 points.

April 26, 8.00pm - Liverpool vs Huddersfield

There is no such thing as a gimme in the final straight of a title race, particularly not when you have gone 29 years without domestic glory. But Huddersfield are the perfect opponent for Liverpool - weak defensively and blunt in attack. Jan Siewert’s arrival has caused a slight improvement in performance, but barely enough to trouble Jurgen Klopp’s team. Put it this way: Huddersfield haven’t even scored a goal against Liverpool since five years before Klopp was born. If they score early, expect Liverpool to work on their goal difference.

Verdict: A thumping home win to put the pressure back on City. Liverpool on 89 points.

April 28, 2.05pm - Burnley vs Manchester City

Pep Guardiola will hope that Burnley beat Cardiff City on April 13. That would leave Sean Dyche’s side virtually safe from relegation, and therefore a malleable opponent. City have been ruthless in recent months, but Burnley do provide one of Liverpool’s best hopes of a slip-up. City drew their last visit to Turf Moor in February 2018, even if their last four home fixtures against them have been won by a combined scoreline of 17-1. Have no doubt that Dyche would love to blacken the eye of a bigger boy and have a lasting impact on the title race.

Verdict: With Burnley safe, City swarm them and win 2-0. Up to 90 points.

May 4, 12.30pm - Manchester City vs Leicester City

A team of Manchester City’s financial muscle shouldn’t really have a bogey club, and supporters might be keen to point out that their side has won both of their last two home games against Leicester. But the Foxes have enjoyed significant success against City. They did the double over them in their title win of 2015/16, and came from behind to beat them on Boxing Day at the King Power. Add in Brendan Rodgers searching for revenge having missed out to City in 2013/14, and you have a recipe for a nervy afternoon at the Etihad.

Verdict: It’s more nervy than Guardiola would like, but City win again. Up to 93 points.

May 5, 4.30pm - Newcastle United vs Liverpool

Is it instructive that Manchester City play before Liverpool during the majority of the gameweeks during the run-in? Perhaps. City’s relentlessness piles more pressure on Klopp’s team, who know that they have to win just to keep up the pressure on their opponents. If Liverpool begin their game against Newcastle four points behind, the race might be run. It’s easy to see that the sense of inevitability about City’s triumph might cause a drop in performance, as was the case against Palace in 2014.

Verdict: Liverpool sense the inevitable, but still beat Benitez’s Newcastle to reach 92 points.

May 12, 3.00pm - Liverpool vs Wolves and Brighton vs Manchester City

The neutral has their own preference, of course. Either both Liverpool and Manchester City must win all of their remaining fixtures until the final day, creating a scenario in which City must beat Brighton to secure the league title. Or, more spectacularly, Liverpool draw one and win three of their next four, while City win four and lose one of their next five. That would leave the teams level heading into the final day, with Liverpool’s comfortable wins over Cardiff and Huddersfield tightening up the goal difference. And so you have a genuine title shootout, with both teams trying to win by as many goals as possible and managers getting constant updates on their rival’s result. Bring it on.

Verdict: Liverpool win but it’s in vain with bad news from Brighton. Liverpool end on 95 points, City 96.

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