Man City can provisionally go back atop the Premier League table Wednesday thanks to another pair of dropped points by Liverpool in a title race that continues to tighten.

By Avi Creditor
February 04, 2019

Much was made over Manchester City's midweek loss to Newcastle a week ago, but it's Liverpool that's actually dropped more points in the span of the last two matches. As a result, the title race is very much on in England.

Man City's bounce-back victory over Arsenal, coupled with two Liverpool draws in a row mean four dropped points for the Reds compared to three for Pep Guardiola's side over the last week and a Premier League title race that has tightened considerably, just when it looked like Liverpool would be able to gain some breathing room.

Liverpool followed Wednesday's home draw vs. Leicester in frigid conditions with Monday's 1-1 result at West Ham, watching its lead sit tenuously at three points over City and five over Tottenham. Liverpool outpossessed West Ham 73%-27% but lacked sharpness in the final third and had no answer for West Ham's set plays. A perfectly executed set piece that resulted in Michail Antonio's equalizer was nearly followed minutes later by another one, only for Declan Rice to direct his clear header wide of the upper 90.

Liverpool's opening goal shouldn't have counted, either, with James Milner clearly offside while receiving a pass from Adam Lallana before he played it into Sadio Mane for the score that made it 1-0. In that regard, perhaps Liverpool was lucky to take any points at all.

Liverpool very nearly struck for a winner at the death, too, but substitute forward Divock Origi–who also was wrongly not flagged for being offside–could only meekly hit his chance right at goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, preserving the 1-1 result.

"What can we do? We take it game by game," Liverpool center back Virgil van Dijk said in his post-match remarks. "We're still top of the league. We made it hard for ourselves, but let's just embrace it, let's enjoy it. Today was a bit disappointing, but we're still in the title race, and some other teams are not."

As Liverpool combats its first rough patch of the season, the injury bug–in addition to its defensive woes, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum sat out Monday–and the looming specter of facing Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16, it finds itself looking ever so cautiously over its shoulder. Man City can provisionally go atop the table as soon as Wednesday, when it plays Everton in a rescheduled fixture. By virtue of its edge in goal differential, Man City holds the first tiebreaker over Liverpool, which makes that three-point gap so unsettling for the Reds as long as it exists. 

Without a head-to-head matchup against Liverpool remaining, both sides will be scoreboard and table watching for the remainder of the season. Regardless of what City does Wednesday, Liverpool's home bout vs. Bournemouth Saturday suddenly has a lot more urgency hanging over it–and the Premier League title race has become all the more intriguing.

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