It’s been a while since the Premier League saw a close title race. One that went to the wire, to the last day. One has to go back to the 2013/2014 season when the top 2 went neck and neck for the Premier League crown, and the last two to do that were Manchester City and Liverpool.
The 2018/2019 season seems to be going a familiar route. Scoring goals for fun, and playing scintillating football, Liverpool were top of the table on Boxing Day 2013, and sat 7 points ahead of Manchester City (City played two games less than Liverpool) after they beat Manchester City 3-2 at Anfield. One slip from Gerrard 2 weeks later in their defeat to Chelsea allowed City to close in, and the 3-3 draw vs Crystal Palace after being 3-0 up was the final nail in the coffin.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard celebrates with defender Martin Skrtel after the Reds found themselves 2-0 up against Manchester City in the two’s chase for the Premier League Title.
Fast forward half a decade, and Liverpool sat 7 points above Manchester City at the turn of 2019, before they lost to them in their first match of 2019. Liverpool have since went on to dropped 4 points from a maximum 12, allowing City to claw back points, and reclaim the top spot in the league. City beat Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday night when the Blue half of Merseyside couldn’t help the Red half as they lost the game 2-0. Everton did show signs of troubling City but failed to capitalize.
Leroy Sane scored the winner in the 2-1 victory in their first match of 2019. The victory closed the gap to Liverpool to 4 points.
Liverpool’s dip in form has been aided by injuries or suspensions, and Liverpool’s makeshift starting XI, with key players out, has not been able to recreate the same level of tempo or goals we have seen from Liverpool this season.
Alexander Arnold’s absence on the right flank of defence has been felt since his injury in their 1-0 away win over Brighton and Hove Albion.
That, however is about to change as key players Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum all trained on Thursday, as the Reds prepare for Bournemouth’s visit to Anfield. Liverpool cam reclaim top spot by beating Bournemouth on Saturday, having played a game less than City, who face Chelsea on Sunday.
These returns also come at a time when Liverpool have a visit to Old Trafford in their Premier League fixture, and welcome Bayern Munich to Anfield in the Champions League Round of 16. Liverpool defender, Virgil Van Dijk is suspended for the first leg of the tie.
Henderson (minor muscle injury) and Wijnaldum (sore knee) were rested for the 1-1 draw against West Ham at The London Stadium. Alexander Arnold, has perhaps been the biggest miss as Liverpool struggled to use his pace on the right flank, and his return will be music to manager Jurgen Klopp’s ears.
Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remain sidelined