Manchester City and Liverpool remain separated by just one point with seven games remaining, after playing out a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon
City took the lead twice, with Kevin De Bruyne and the recalled Gabriel Jesus on target. However, the Reds equalised on both occasions, with Diogo Jota scoring their first goal and Sadio Mane levelling things up for a second time early in the second half.
With seven games remaining, the gap between the sides is still just one point, meaning maximum points for Pep Guardiola’s men would guarantee them the title. However, there are plenty of potential twists and turns to come, and Mirror Football has compared the upcoming games awaiting the two title contenders.
City and Liverpool both face a bit of a wait before returning to Premier League action. The rivals remain in the FA Cup, where they are due to face off in the semi-final at Wembley on Saturday, so the title race won’t resume until the following round of midweek games.
First up for City is a home meeting with Brighton & Hove Albion – a game Guardiola will know not to consider a done deal. It was Brighton who faced his team on the final day of the 2018-19 season, with the gap the same as it is now, and Glenn Murray gave the Seagulls a shock lead before City turned things around to win 4-1.
After that, it’s three of the teams in the relegation picture. City will be happy to have seen Leeds and Newcastle win over the weekend, ensuring the pair won’t be quite as desperate for points, but Watford – who travel to the Etihad on April 23 – are very much fighting for their lives.
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Newcastle’s win came against Wolves, who may now have less to play for when their game against City at Molineux – initially set for this coming weekend – is rescheduled. However, after Wolves’ 2019-20 double over City, the result is far from a foregone conclusion.
The last two weekends of the season will see City in action against teams in claret and blue, and both are potential banana skins. The first of the two comes at the London Stadium, scene of their Carabao Cup elimination, and West Ham’s progress in the Premier League and Europa League may have some bearing on the outcome.
On the final day, meanwhile, City are back at home with a game against Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa. Surely Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho couldn’t get revenge for narrowly losing the title to the Manchester club in 2014. Or could they?
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While Liverpool remain very much in touch after Sunday’s draw, their next Premier League is one of their tougher tests on paper. Manchester United might have lost the reverse fixture 5-0, and they might only have one win in their last five, but there’s enough quality in their squad to cause problems – not to mention the motivation of denting the Reds’ title bid.
Speaking of motivation, few will want to inflict damage more than neighbours Everton. Frank Lampard’s side travel to Anfield on April 24, and it would be one hell of a way for them to improve on a dreadful away record.
A trip to face Eddie Howe’s Newcastle follows on April 30, with Champions League chasers Tottenham at Anfield seven days later. Maximum points from those four games might leave Liverpool feeling they’ve done the hard work, but it won’t be over until it’s over.
Just like their title rivals, Liverpool have a game against Villa to come, ensuring the mid-table side could have a huge bearing on the destination of the trophy. Theirs is away from home, though, and the closeness of the December meeting suggests it could be tricky.
Southampton away on May 15 is another which could go one of two ways. The Reds have won their last two against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side without conceding a goal, but were beaten at St Mary’s in January 2021 during a dismal spell which threatened to leave them outside the top four.
The final day of the season sees Liverpool back at home, and they’ll hope to win the title in front of their own fans after the behind-closed-doors triumph of 2020. Opponents Wolves kept the Reds at bay until the 94th minute when they met in December, and a similar level of tension on May 22 might be too much to bear.
So, down to the nitty-gritty. Liverpool have four home games and three on the road, as do City, and this could be a bigger deal for the Reds (unbeaten at Anfield) than their rivals (more points away than at home).
Liverpool’s opponents have an average position of 11th in the table, with the highest in fourth and the lowest in 17th. City’s have an average position of 12th, with the highest in sixth and the lowest down in 19th.
Still, the most important factor might still be the current points tally. Liverpool can win all seven and it still might not be enough.
Manchester City fixtures: Brighton (h), Watford (h), Leeds (a), Newcastle (h), West Ham (a), Aston Villa (h), Wolves (a; date tbc)
Liverpool fixtures: Manchester United (h), Everton (h), Newcastle (a), Tottenham (h), Aston Villa (a), Southampton (a), Wolves (h).