As the Premier League title race goes down to the wire, never has the scrutiny on Liverpool’s fixture lists been tighter.
Fans have been analysing the run-in for some time now.
With only a handful of games left, it seems that Liverpool have overcome their biggest remaining challenge by beating Chelsea. They also turned it up in the second half to overcome Cardiff 2-0.
The same scrutiny has also been applied to Liverpool’s fixture list by rival Manchester City fans. Kopites have returned the favour and have looked at any potential banana skins for Guardiola’s side in the sprint for the title.
So where are those potentially tricky fixtures in Pep Guardiola’s calendar?
Well, much to the disappointment of us all (myself included), I think it will only come in one game.
That game will be against Manchester United in late April. There was hope that maybe Spurs would be able to salvage a point from their clash with City. But unfortunately, they lost 1-0 after a controversial call early in the second half.Embed from Getty Images
Realistically, most people would have expected this after City breezed past Watford, Bournemouth and Cardiff in their last three games.
While no Premier League team can be truly taken for granted, it is perhaps a little naive and optimistic to hope for teams to take anything away from their games with City. There are reasons for that.
1. City are pushing hard
We always knew that if Liverpool were to become embroiled in a title fight with City that they wouldn’t go down without a fight.
That’s proving to be just the case.
City are doing the same as we thought they might and steamrolling lesser opponents, as demonstrated when they swept aside a sorry Crystal Palace.
It’s not a surprise from a team that has been so impressive all season. They’ve also had their blips against smaller teams this season, so they’ll be determined not to let that happen again.
2. City aren’t defending champions for nothing
We’d be kidding ourselves if we thought that City didn’t have this kind of experience of a title race.
They did it last year and are on track to do the same again this year, hence why they’re probably title favourites.
And let us not forget that famous title win of theirs that provided football with the ‘Aguero’ moment. City are seasoned pros in this field.
While Liverpool don’t have much experience, it’s definitely something that goes in their favour.
It hasn’t done yet, but could pressure tell on Liverpool against someone like Huddersfield? It’s not conceivable at present, but it could come down to that.
3. These teams don’t have much to play for
The three remaining fixtures against opponents outside of the top six for City consist of away games against Brighton and Burnley and a home tie against Leicester.
While Brighton are teetering above the relegation zone, it looks unlikely at this point that they’ll go down, so won’t have much to play for.
Likewise with Burnley, who are now pretty safe.
Leicester are mid-table. They are nowhere near relegation or European promotion, so have nothing to play for.
That’s not exactly music to Liverpool’s ears.
These sides are more likely to go through the motions rather put pressure on City if they need points to survive or to qualify for Europe.
While Liverpool don’t face many teams in need of points either, it certainly doesn’t help their cause at all.
4. We always expected City to win these games, didn’t we?
Make no mistake, looking at the remaining fixtures, it’s always been riding on Liverpool’s games against Chelsea.
And, likewise, City’s ties against Spurs and United.Embed from Getty Images
Anything else against the other teams would’ve been a huge but unexpected bonus. They can’t be relied upon to help Liverpool’s cause.
So oddly enough, we could all be cheering on Manchester United in the Manchester derby in a few weeks.
We could be praying that our bitter rivals do us a favour against our title rivals in a twist of fate.