Dubai: While all the chat in the Premier League this week has been about Jose Mourinho’s return and Jurgen Klopp’s rampant men in red, there is a slight shift in focus to two teams in blue this weekend.
Granted the result of the Chelsea v Manchester City clash at the Etihad will have major ramifications over at Anfield in Liverpool, but the eyes will be on a relative rookie in the Chelsea dugout — as Frank Lampard puts his credentials on the line against a smarting Pep Guardiola and City.
The defending champions have found they are up against it if they are to make it three Premier League titles in a row, with Liverpool, Leicester City and Chelsea all above them in the title race — with Klopp’s men a massive nine points ahead.
Oddly, despite his side being closer to Liverpool than Guardiola’s side, Lampard may become kingmaker this weekend if his young team can overcome City.
Realistically, there would be no way back in a title race where Liverpool have dominated all-comers — including City on the last outing at Anfield.
While Chelsea and — to a certain extent Leicester — will still harbour a shot at the Premier League title, another defeat for City will mean Liverpool will canter to the trophy come May and take home their first ever Premier League silverware.
The Jose Mourinho cavalcade has taken over Tottenham Hotspur, but a much more telling blow will occur if Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Lampard’s upstarts can come away with a victory from Manchester.
If that is the case, Klopp will be a much happier man than Lampard, regardless of the feather the young manager will earn in his cap by overcoming a wounded beast in City, who know how to fight back.
Liverpool — the European champions — look like they still have a couple of more gears to go through if required this season, but if City drop more points against Chelsea, the Reds can shift into cruise control and — just maybe — turn an eye to defending their Champions League title, knowing the domestic league is as good as in the bag.