The 2021-22 Premier League title race is back on
At the beginning of January, it was looking like the 2021-22 Premier League title was already locked up by Manchester City, but after this weekend’s matches the title race is back in full swing and is shaping up for an exciting finish.
On January 4th Manchester City were top of the league with 53 points in 21 matches and cruising having won 11 straight. At the time City were 10 points ahead of Chelsea in second and 11 points clear of Liverpool in third with one less match played than City and Chelsea.
Now nearly seven weeks later Manchester City is still top of the 2021-22 Premier League table, but the gap has closed to only six points between them and Liverpool. Six points may still be a lot to overcome, but there is hope for Liverpool since they have a match in hand and could close the gap to three points when they play Leeds United on Wednesday, February 23. This comes after a weekend of games that saw Manchester City lose for the first time since a 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace back in October 2021.
In matchweek 26 Manchester City played Tottenham at the Etihad. In their first matchup on the opening day of the 2021-22 Premier League season, Tottenham surprised everyone by beating the reigning champions 1-0 thanks to a second-half goal from Son Heung-min. This time Son did not score but Spurs still beat Man City 3-2 in what could be the match of the season. A goal from Harry Kane in the 90+5’ was the difference after Riyad Mahrez equalized the game at 2-2 with a penalty in the 90+2’. The goal for Kane was his second of the match and stopped Mahrez and City’s 15 match unbeaten run in the league right after the home team thought they had stolen a point at the death.
While Manchester City messed around and lost, Liverpool were taking advantage of City dropping points by beating Norwich 3-1. It was a relatively straightforward match for Liverpool who had to come back from 1-0 down. This win was the fifth straight for the Merseyside team and helped propel them back into the title picture. Both Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah scored for Liverpool against Norwich and have added a much-needed boost since returning to Liverpool following the 2021 African Cup of Nations.
In the time without Salah and Mane Liverpool went undefeated in six matches across all competitions which included two league wins. Now that they have their two best players back it is full steam ahead for Liverpool and at the right time as they are right on Man City’s tails and could pull even closer this week.
Between Liverpool’s win and Manchester City’s loss this weekend the race for the title is back, but it is likely only going to be a race between these two teams and not include Chelsea who are 13 points back of City and seven back of Liverpool despite winning 1-0 against Crystal Palace on Saturday. Chelsea was expected to be a top-two team coming into the 2021-22 Premier League season especially after winning the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League against Manchester City.
Now at full strength, Liverpool should be able to put the pressure back on Manchester City who has been sitting rather comfortably at the top of the table for the last month and a half. It will be interesting to see what happens to both teams considering they are both still competing in the FA Cup and the Champions League as well as the Premier League. After falling to Chelsea in the Champions League Final last season Manchester City came in with the goal of winning it this year. I think that they need to win the Champions League at some point to be considered one of the great teams because they have already won virtually everything domestically including three of the past four Premier League titles.
If City does turn most of their attention to winning the Champions League a small slip-up in the Premier League could be all that Liverpool would need to take control of first place. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side have a big stretch of matches coming up from the middle of March through the beginning of April. In that stretch, they have to play away to Arsenal, home to Manchester United, and away to Manchester City, all three teams are currently in the top six and are fighting for either a title or the final Champions League spot.
The match between City and Liverpool could ultimately be the decider as at that stage in the season there are only six matches left for each team. As of now according to FiveThirtyEight Manchester City have a 77 percent chance to win the 2021-22 Premier League while Liverpool have only a 22 percent chance.
In the first match between Manchester City and Liverpool, the game ended in a 2-2 draw on October 2nd. That match was back and forth with City equalizing twice first with a Phil Foden goal to make it 1-1 and then a goal by Kevin de Bruyne in the 81st minute made it 2-2. For Liverpool, both Salah and Mane scored with Mane’s goal coming first in the 59th minute.
Up next for Liverpool is a midweek clash with Leeds at Anfield on Wednesday. Manchester City do not play again until Saturday when they travel to the city of Liverpool to play Everton. Both are very winnable games for Manchester City and Liverpool, so hopefully, this will be the start of a close race to the finish of the 2021-22 Premier League season.
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