EPL

Premier League title race state of play as Manchester City gain upper hand

By Sports Desk April 15, 2024

Manchester City took the initiative in the Premier League title race by hammering Luton on Saturday before rivals Liverpool and Arsenal both lost on Sunday.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the state of play with six games remaining.

Momentum shift

While City took only a two-point lead in what remains a close race, the momentum swing felt significant as they jumped from third to first.

The manner of their 5-1 win also sounded a warning, while Arsenal were outplayed in the second half as they lost 2-0 to Aston Villa and Liverpool missed a hatful of chances as Crystal Palace held on for a 1-0 upset.

Commitments in other competitions mean City do not play their next league game until April 25 at Brighton, by which point their rivals will both have played twice more knowing they need wins to put the pressure back on Pep Guardiola’s side.

Arsenal have the first chance to get back on track, away at Wolves late on Saturday evening, with Liverpool travelling to Fulham the following day.

Both are back in action three days on with eye-catching fixtures, Arsenal hosting Chelsea a week on Tuesday before the Wednesday brings a Merseyside derby at Everton’s Goodison Park, with City playing on the Thursday.

City’s trip to Tottenham has been put back to May 14, the Tuesday before the season ends on Sunday, May 19, meaning from this weekend on they will have a game in hand.

Course and distance winners

Another reason for City’s psychological edge is their title-winning pedigree under Guardiola.

They have finished first in five of the last six seasons, and second to Liverpool in the other, and have been noted for their strong finishes in that time.

Of the final 18 points available to them in each of the last six seasons, City have won 16, 18, 15, 12, 16 and 13 – an average of 15 which, if repeated this term, would require either Liverpool or Arsenal to win all six of their remaining games.

Arsenal, under Guardiola’s former assistant Mikel Arteta, put themselves in prime position last season but faltered by taking only 12 points from their final nine games, and nine in the last six including successive defeats to Brighton and Nottingham Forest, as they finished five points behind City.

Liverpool have previous achievements of their own to fall back on after winning the 2019-20 title, the only interruption to City’s run of dominance.

They had done their work earlier that season, though they still won four and drew one of their last six to ease home with an 18-point winning margin.

The previous season they won their last nine games in succession to push City all the way, finishing a point behind with their total of 97 the highest ever for a team who did not win the title.

They have taken 16, 16 and 14 points from their last six games in the three seasons since their title win but know they will need something similar, allied to an unfamiliar City slip-up, if they are to provide a glorious finale to Jurgen Klopp’s managerial reign.

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