Once again, Manchester City travel to Anfield, hoping to win there for the first time since 2003. Not since a Nicolas Anelka winner almost 18 years ago have City won at the home of current champions. But there’s the sense that no matter what happens at Anfield, City still look dead-on for a third league title in four years.
Manchester City Taking Charge at the Top as They Travel to Anfield
Earlier this season, the Premier League seemed a wide-open race. The tides at the top kept turning, with teams switching places. Narratives were being disproven almost as soon as they were developed.
At one point, it looked like Manchester City and Manchester United, alongside Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, were in the race. No-one could dismiss Leicester City and Everton as well, while Southampton were top once.
The prospect of a title race with no team pulling ahead was thrilling. But the issue with such a table was that if a team found a way to take charge, they might just steamroll their way to the title.
It looks like Manchester City have very much done that.
Back in October, City looked shaky, at best. There were easily got at, and worst of all, easy to play against. There were questions over a rebuild by Pep Guardiola, and whether he should have signed that new contract. But since losing to Spurs in November – in what seemed like a statement for their opponents – City haven’t tasted defeat.
They’ve won 13 games in a row, and in the league, they are three points clear with a game in hand.
City Racing Clear
It’s not just that City have taken charge, while others continue to be inconsistent. It’s that they seem to be back in the usual groove. The wins are no longer stodgy, as they looked earlier in the season. City were stiff and rigid.
Instead, the fluidity has returned, despite the fact that talisman Kevin de Bruyne has been out recently, and that Sergio Aguero has been missing for most of the season.
City’s ability to not just cope, but hardly flinch, after losing such quality is testament to a resurgence from club and manager. Guardiola hit the realisation that, in a compressed season, City needed to do less running, and that is evident as they can kill games early on, and control the rest of the play. As the rest of the league continue to fall over themselves, City have found their way to glory.
Playing Liverpool at Anfield
In contrast, Liverpool have been among the teams flailing of late. Before City, Jurgen Klopp’s side looked like they’d be the ones to make a run for the title. But between the end of 2020 and now, they’ve faltered, and after 68 games without a league at home, they’ve lost the last two, to Burnley and Brighton & Hove Albion.
Perhaps this is the best time for City to find that first at Anfield since May 2003. They have their tails up, Liverpool are not assured at home, and there are no fans to generate an atmosphere.
However, a defeat will do little to dampen City’s mood. Instead, it is Liverpool who are in need of a win to keep their title hopes alive. After a stodgy start, City are in a place where they can afford to drop a gear or two. Going into Sunday’s game, the pressure’s off.