First thing’s first: last night was a disappointment. We were all imagining looking at the league table, seeing Liverpool 7 points clear at the top, and maybe even dreaming of a world where Liverpool win the league comfortably with a few games to go.
Of course, that’s not how last night went, and this title run-in very well could go the distance.
However, it’s worth putting everything into perspective. Considering Liverpool’s form this season, that 5-point gap is nothing to sniff at. In fact, Manchester City will likely have to be perfect (or close to it) to push the Reds to the end of the season.
Over the course of 24 league matches, Liverpool are averaging 2.54 points per game (ppg), so on course for 96 or 97 points in the final league standings. City, on the other hand, are averaging 2.33 ppg, which would give them a final tally of about 88 or 89 points at their current pace.
Moreover, if City win out—42 points out of 42—their final tally would be 98 points. Winning out puts them a point or two clear of our current pace. And if they drop any points at all? They’ll have to hope Liverpool fall off the pace in order to pip the Reds at the finish line.
This is not to say City will not win out. They are certainly talented enough to go on such an impressive run.
However, it is far more likely that they will drop points—likely several times—before the end of the season. It is especially likely because of their continued involvement in all four competitions. The Champions League, in particularly, is notorious for costing sides points when they make deep runs in Europe’s premier club competition. City are likely to go through against Schalke, which would add at least two additional intense fixtures to their already packed run-in.
If I were a City fan (insofar as such a thing exists), I would be worried about the “4” in the loss column. Title winning sides find a way to grind out results, even if they’re disappointing draws. The City losses to Crystal Palace and Leicester have to be especially disconcerting compared to Liverpool’s points in comparable fixtures.
This is all academic, of course. In order to keep this ~2.5 ppg Liverpool will need to keep winning (specifically three wins and a draw for every four games). If Liverpool can maintain this form (or better), it’ll become increasingly difficult (and eventually impossible) for City to catch. Going out an winning against West Ham would be a good start in accomplishing the biggest of goals.