On Sunday night, hours after Liverpool scrapped their way to a 2-0 win, Manchester City lost 1-0 to Southampton. You could say it was a shock result, but this season it was anything but; it was their 9th loss of the season.
Post-match, Pep Guardiola reflected on his side’s inconsistent form throughout the campaign.
“When you lose nine games you cannot win the Premier League right now - maybe years ago,” the Man City boss said. “The champions have to score above 90 points, so when you lose nine games you cannot win the league.”
Even before the lockdown, rival fans were trying their best to diminish Liverpool’s accomplishments. First it was VAR decisions. Then it was “Lucky Liverpool.” Then it was corona. A tainted title.
All of these claims ignore the fact that no other team came close to the Reds, including the all-conquering Manchester City. Indeed, the maximum number of points City can achieve this season is 81, if they win out, which is a big if. Liverpool had 82 points before lockdown.
“I was not able to solve the problem that we have had since the beginning,” Pep continued. “I remember the game against Tottenham at home, they had two shots on target and we shot more than 20 and we drew. It happened in the second game in the league and the last game against Southampton was similar. I was not able to change this dynamic.”
Part of Manchester City’s success in recent seasons was their defensive record. This season, in part because of the loss of star defender Aymeric Laporte, City struggled to keep opponents out, at least compared to previous seasons.
As we have seen from Liverpool sides in recent memory—2013/14 being the quintessential example—it is difficult to win titles if you cannot keep opponents out in tight matches. It is something Liverpool have done extraordinarily well this season, racking up an impressive 14 wins by 1 goal. And it more than makes up the difference between the two sides.