All the recent talk has been about Manchester City being too many points ahead of second-placed Liverpool and that Jurgen Klopp’s men will not be able to catch them. City were 12 points clear not long ago but if anyone actually believed that the race was over then they were living on cloud-cuckoo land. Everyone knows you don’t win the title in February, and following Harry Kane's double at the Etihad Stadium last night, the title race is well and truly back on.
With Tottenham sealing an incredible 3-2 win over the champions, all is suddenly to play for again. It just had to be Kane, Pep Guardiola’s summer-long transfer target, who did the damage and showed the City faithful what they’re missing - a proper striker. Now, their lead at the top is down to 6 after a pulsating match that could serve as a seismic shift in the Premier League’s battle for supremacy.
Game in hand
I have been saying for weeks that City would be caught because they seemed to have gone off the boil a little and have been scraping victories rather than cruising to them like we all know they usually do. Well, Liverpool can cut the gap to 3 if they win their game in hand on Wednesday against Leeds United. And then on April 9, Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp will come face-to-face in what will be an almighty clash.
But before that both sides will have some tough fixtures to navigate. Amongst others City will be facing rivals Manchester United in what will be a hotly contested derby but Liverpool appear to have harder run. They also play United and then West Ham and Arsenal before City. They may cut the gap to 3 in midweek but there is a very real danger that all the hard work could be undone if they don’t keep the pedal to the metal against Ronaldo and co, the Gunners and the Hammers.
Klopp is a wily character and will make sure his side is up to the task, and when the two heavyweights collide you can guarantee we will be in for a blood and thunder-like contest.
But, I have always found it absurd when people say the season is over when a team has a healthy lead at the top of the table. Leads can evaporate in the blink of an eye. Who can forget Newcastle back in season 1995-96? They had built up a 12-point cushion in January and everyone thought the title was theirs. But, they were feeling the pressure and then came Kevin Keegan’s infamous “I would love it” rant which ultimately gave Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United the motivation they needed to hunt them down. And they did.
United are regarded as the best chasers in Premier League history, but the hunters became the hunted in 1997-98 as they blew a massive 11-point lead over Arsenal with only 9 games remaining. Arsene Wenger got the better of Fergie at Old Trafford in March and by the time the Gunners beat Wimbledon in April, they never looked back.
All to play for
Then in 2003-4, Fergie gained his revenge. Arsenal lost an 8-point advantage in March as United won 15 of their last 18 games and finished 5 points ahead of Wenger’s side.
There have been many more instances and it underlines why you never hand out the Premier League prizes in January or February - or should think for one minute that the title race is over, because it isn’t.
City and Liverpool are two very closely matched sides and can score goals from all over the pitch. It was never going to be a one-horse race, and so it is proving thanks to Kane’s double, and that is music to the ears of the neutrals who want it to go down to the wire. And it just might. Again. Who can forget the sheer drama of season 2018-19?
There are going to be many more intriguing twists and turns this campaign before the final ball is kicked in the most exciting football league in the world. Strap yourself in and bring out the popcorn.