Twelve Premier League teams were in action on Tuesday, and the biggest winner is one who didn't play at all. Liverpool has complete command of the EPL title race after Man City's loss at Newcastle.
Twelve Premier League teams were in action on Tuesday, and the biggest winner is one that didn't play at all.
Liverpool is sitting pretty atop the table and more entrenched in the driver's seat for the title after Manchester City's shocking 2-1 loss to relegation-threatened Newcastle on Tuesday. The day presented a rare opportunity for Man City, that being the chance to play a day before Liverpool and apply pressure in the table by creeping within one point. Since Man City beat Liverpool in a riveting bout in early January, the Reds have always had the upper hand, forcing Man City to win its games in hand just to keep pace. With the tables turned, Man City simply couldn't come through.
It surely didn't look that way after 24 seconds, when Sergio Aguero scored the fastest goal of the Premier League season to take early control against an already demoralized side. And perhaps City was hard done by when it had an apparent second goal soon after taken off the board after Kevin de Bruyne took a quick free kick too quickly for the referee's liking. A 2-0 lead at that point, and it's unlikely the result goes the same way. But Pep Guardiola's men were admittedly poor overall on the day, failed to finish the job and must live with the consequences. Such are the slim margins in this title race. They've now dropped more points this season (16) than they did during the entirety of last season's record-setting campaign (14), and they've opened the door for Liverpool to extend the lead to seven points heading into the weekend.
"In general our game was not in the rhythm we need to play a Premier League game," Guardiola said after the match. "We knew that we needed to win a lot of games because the advantage is not huge ... but we have to continue. Football, many things can happen, but the most important thing is not about the table. I've said many times we have to do our games, to do what we have to do, and when it doesn't happen, you can lose, because football today is so competitive, and many, many details ... we were not in our best day today."
Of course, the race isn't over yet, not with 14 matches to go and Liverpool still facing dates vs. Manchester United at Old Trafford and at home vs. Tottenham and Chelsea, not to mention a Merseyside Derby at Everton. If Tuesday taught any lesson, it's that no match should be taken for granted, either. A Liverpool loss to Leicester City on Wednesday would leave Man City and LFC in the exact same position as they were earlier Tuesday going into Matchday 25 this weekend. City again plays the day before Liverpool, with a Sunday home match against Arsenal looking even more crucial, regardless of Liverpool's outcome vs. the much-maligned Foxes at Anfield.
If Liverpool does indeed go on to win the title, Man City will look back in anger at the matches that got away. The odd back-to-back defeats during holiday time to Crystal Palace and Leicester put Liverpool in control of the league. City bounced back, winning its next eight matches in all competitions, some in utterly ruthless fashion. It hadn't conceded a goal since the one to Liverpool in a 2-1 win at the Etihad on Jan. 3. In the six matches that followed, Man City outscored its foes by an astounding 28-0 margin. But Tuesday's hiccup against Newcastle–oddly enough managed by ex-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez–may prove one setback too many in the difficult quest to repeat.