Is Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers squirming ahead of the home match against Manchester City on Sunday? – AFP Photo
MANY have been talking up the Liverpool and Manchester City clash as being the title-decider of the English Premier League.
But I’m not one of them – I don’t subscribe to that notion. I say so because both the Reds and the Citizens could lose this game and still go on to win the title next month.
I do believe, though, that if either team win Sunday’s Anfield showdown, they will have put themselves in an excellent position to land the crown, which would be the first in 24 years for Liverpool and the second in three seasons for City.
Just four points separate the leaders, who are at home on Sunday, and Manuel Pellegrini’s City, who are third in the standings with two games in hand. One of those outstanding fixtures has been scheduled for Wednesday, when Sunderland visit the Etihad.
Brendan Rodgers, after staying cool all season, has to some extent shown his hand by coming out this week and declaring that his side are “fearless”.
For me, that is a case of someone very jittery – indeed, it could well be a case of panic.
Liverpool, after all those years of sheer dominance, have not had a better crack at the league in 20-odd seasons and it comes in just the second term of Rodgers’ tenure. So, for them to become tense and nervous, it is perhaps something understandable.
But Rodgers, perhaps, should have just kept those thoughts to himself and let his players do the talking on the pitch – something the City squad will be itching to do on Sunday.
City might have been outscored by Liverpool in terms of finding the net (84-90), but they have equalled the Reds for sheer football excitement, if not overshadowing them, and have conceded fewer goals (29-40) than the Merseyside team.
As a consequence, the Manchester boys boast a better goal aggregate of 55 – to Liverpool’s 50.
Those statistics might come in handy at the end of the campaign, when the mathematics are done, but Sunday it will all be about who will come up triumphant.
There is no denying that Liverpool have been good value for money this term – the best they have been since Kenny Dalglish last won the league crown for them in 1991.
But that is about as far as it goes, because City themselves have been exceptional in Pellegrini’s first season in charge and everybody knows that if they emerge from Anfield with all three points, the title will almost certainly be making its way back to the Etihad – where it belongs.
Shaun Orange agrees that there is potential for a thriller at Liverpool, but adds that City will win it 3-2.