Regardless of Liverpool’s outcome in tonight’s clash against Leicester City, the Reds were handed a boost by Manchester City’s slip against Newcastle last night. Of course, to take full advantage, Liverpool will need to collect all three points.
And of course, regardless of whether the gap remains 4 points or is extended to 5 or 7 points after tonight’s action, the title race isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination.
It was a point that City manager Pep Guardiola defiantly claimed in the post match press conference.
“Well, it’s a lot of points if they go on to win,” Pep explained, “but we are in January, it’s not April or May. There are still many games and anything can happen.
”A lot of teams are playing many reasons, teams to stay in the Premier League, others to go to the Europa League, for the Champions League.
”In our case, every game, we have to do our best to be there, try to not give up, move forward and try another time and another time.”
He is right in the sense that this title race is far from over.
However, his statement rings hollow in a few regards. The best case scenario for City is that Liverpool suffer a rare home defeat, but regardless of the outcome, it is one less game for the defending champs to catch the pace-setters.
With a win tonight, Liverpool will be on pace to match City’s record-breaking 100-point season. City, on the other hand, are on pace to come up just shy of 90 points. Simply put, considering Liverpool’s season-long form (as well as City’s), a 7-point gap would put Liverpool in a dominant position with only 14 league games remaining.
There’s still a lot of football to play, but each win increases the odds that Liverpool will be able to run down the clock. And that 7-point gap, aside from giving the Reds a 2 or 3 game cushion, would deal a pretty significant psychological blow to City, especially since there are no more head-to-head matches in the league.
I cannot blame Pep for his defiant attitude after last night’s match. What is he supposed to say, “Nah. Might as well hand the title to Klopp. I’m tired of this, and I’d quite like to enjoy reading again.” Unlikely.
The best way for Liverpool to respond is with a win tonight. And hopefully keep winning until April or May, just like Pep suggested.