Title Race Assessed | Who Will Be Premier League Champions?
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Title Race Assessed | Who Will Be Premier League Champions?

06/04/24 11:59

Crunch time has well and truly arrived for Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City in this fascinating three-horse Premier League title race which looks poised to go all the way down to the wire. With just eight rounds of matches left to play, we have now entered the final stretch of the season as the three teams battle it out to be crowned champions next month.

Will Mikel Arteta lead Arsenal to their first league title in 20 years?

Will Liverpool equal Manchester United’s record tally of 20 league titles won in Jurgen Klopp’s final season in charge?

Or will Manchester City become the first team to win an unprecedented four Premier League titles in a row?

According to the Opta title predictor, Liverpool are favourites to lift the Premier League title with a 47.7% chance. Manchester City have the second highest chance at 33.5%, while Arsenal are least likely to be crowned champions with a 18.8% chance.

Arsenal’s current crop of players are undoubtedly less experienced in challenging for Premier League titles than both Liverpool and Man City but will no doubt have learned some key lessons from last season’s run in where they seemed to run out of steam during the critical period of the season. The Gunners appear to be going about their business with much more maturity this term and are peaking at exactly the right time.

Keeping key players fit will be vitally important for Arsenal in particular this season as they don’t possess the same level of depth that the other two sides have at their disposal. William Saliba’s back injury derailed their title bid last season and so the Gunners will be praying that key cogs in their team remain fit this time around and history doesn’t repeat itself.

Saliba Arsenal

If Arsenal do go on to lift the title, they will look back on their head-to-head record against their fellow title rivals as a significant reason why. Arteta’s side have taken eight points from the 12 that were available to them in their four matches against Liverpool and Man City this season, whereas their two title competitors have each taken just three points.

Given how tight it is at the top of the table with the three sides separated by just three points with eight games left to play, it’s not out of the realms of possibility that the title race could go down to goal difference. The title has only been won on goal difference once since the Premier League’s inception in 1992 when Sergio Aguero dramatically scored a famous last minute winner against QPR on the final day of the 2011/12 season to clinch the title ahead of rivals Manchester United on goal difference.

If this season’s title was to be decided on goal difference then Arsenal would be the likely beneficiaries as it stands given their impressive goal difference of +48 which is +6 higher than Liverpool’s tally and +10 higher than Manchester City’s. The Gunners are the highest scorers in the league (72) while also having the best defensive record (24 goals against). Arsenal’s goal difference is largely helped by an astonishing run of four games between mid-February and early March against West Ham, Burnley, Newcastle and Sheffield United that saw Mikel Arteta’s side find the net on 21 occasions and concede just once.

Another small detail which could work in Arsenal’s favour in the run in is the fact that four of their remaining eight games are at home (four away), whereas both Liverpool and Manchester City have just three home games remaining (five away). However, the general consensus amongst fans and pundits alike is that Arsenal still have the hardest remaining fixtures on paper. The first of Arsenal’s tricky looking fixtures comes in the 5:30pm kick-off this evening as Mikel Arteta’s side travel to the Amex Stadium to face a Brighton side who have lost just one home game in the Premier League this season. Also awaiting the Gunners are trips to north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, as well as difficult looking home assignments against Aston Villa and Chelsea among others.

Tottenham Son

Liverpool are also faced with some challenging fixtures to overcome in the run in as they look to maintain their two point cushion at the top of the Premier League table. The Merseysiders go up against their wounded rivals Manchester United tomorrow looking to avenge their dramatic FA Cup exit at the hands of Erik Ten Hag’s side last month. Liverpool will also have to navigate a potentially pivotal week in the title race when they play three away games on the trot against Fulham, Merseyside rivals Everton and West Ham. If they can come through that week unscathed then they would stand a very good chance of clinching their first league title since the 2019/20 season. However, the tricky fixtures won’t stop there for the Reds as they would still have to lock horns with Tottenham at Anfield before travelling to Villa Park to face fourth placed Aston Villa.

But Liverpool won’t be phased by the pressure that a title run in brings as they have experienced it on several occasions during Klopp’s reign going blow for blow with Man City. They have the lowest number of defeats in the Premier League this season (2) and will soon be boosted by the returns of Allison, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jota from injury. Liverpool appear to be riding the wave of Jurgen Klopp’s farewell after the 56-year-old announced in January that he will be leaving the club at the end of the season to pull the curtain on a nine year dynasty at Anfield.

Klopp

Something which could further boost Liverpool’s title aspirations is the fact they don’t have to juggle the title race with the latter stages of the Champions League, unlike both Arsenal and Man City. Although Liverpool are still in the Europa League, the latter stages of the Champions League require a different level of energy, focus and mental strength. This could definitely play into Liverpool’s hands, particularly if Arsenal and Man City end up meeting each other in the semi-finals.

On paper, Man City’s run in looks the ‘easiest’ out of the three teams. There are no easy games in the Premier League of course but Pep Guardiola will look at his side’s fixture list fancying their chances of winning their sixth Premier League title in seven seasons. The treble holders clearly know what it takes to win and have proven time and time again that they are capable of stringing together long runs of victories at the business end of the season.

The two fixtures which stand out as potential banana skins for City are Tottenham away and Brighton away. Tottenham have become somewhat of a bogey team for City in recent years having won five of their last eight Premier League meetings, while Brighton are capable of going toe-to-toe with any team in the league on their day. Guardiola’s side will also have to navigate a tough looking fixture away to Nottingham Forest who will be fighting for their lives to stay in the division.

Pep

One factor which could give Arsenal and Liverpool a hint of encouragement is that City still have to play an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea meaning their schedule is about as busy as it could possibly be at this stage of the season. Ultimately though, City have the required depth in both numbers and quality to deal with that and you would not bet against them winning all eight of their remaining league fixtures.

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