Manchester City didn’t drop points against Everton. Not that anyone expected they would, least of all Everton or their fans, who showed little of the passion and belief that helped Crystal Palace and Newcastle United upset the defending champions in recent weeks.
Now, while Liverpool have a game in hand on the richest club in England, City are currently ahead of them again in the table, first thanks to goal differential. Liverpool, though, still do control their own destiny. Win that game in hand, and they’re right back on top of it.
Keep winning, and they’re certain to be champions for the first time in the Premier League era. City manager Pep Guardiola, though, doesn’t think that’s going to happen—in fact, he doesn’t think that either side will play out the rest of the league season to perfection.
“It feels better being top of the league, but we have played one more game,” said Guardiola after their victory over Everton. “It is the best we can do. We could have been 10 points behind when we played Liverpool. A few days ago it could have been seven points.
“What is the lesson? Never give up. We have 12 games to play, there are a lot of points to play for and we will drop points between now and the end of the season. Hopefully as little as possible. Hopefully less than Liverpool. I don’t think any team will win 12 games.”
City still have Chelsea, Man United, and Tottenham to face in the league, plus they’re still going in all four competitions. Liverpool face United and Spurs and are playing in two. The edge there seems to go to Liverpool, but City’s riches mean they have more depth.
And, despite the the table today saying City are first and that Liverpool are chasing the defending Champions, the Reds do have that game in hand—and with it, just maybe, a little extra motivation heading into their game on Saturday against Bournemouth.
Win and they’ll be three points clear again before City face Chelsea on Sunday—and, whatever the outcome of the two games on the weekend, again leave Liverpool with an extra league game in hand. There’s a real title race now. It’s time to embrace it.
“We have a game every three days for three months,” Guardiola added. “I don’t know how far we will get, maybe we will die in the road, but we are trying.”