The Premier League title looked like was heading to Anfield for the first time since 1990 but back-to-back draws have changed everything.
Liverpool are looking vulnerable for, arguably, the first time this season and Manchester City are poised to take full advantage. Pep Guardiola’s side picked up a clean sheet and three more points in the 2-0 win at Goodison Park on Wednesday, leapfrogging Liverpool in the process.
The Reds do have a game in hand, though, making the race for first even more intriguing. Tottenham, five points back, cannot yet be written off either. How they cope without stars Harry Kane and Dele Alli will probably define their season but as we have seen over the last month, a couple of bad results changes everything.
With the season nearing an epic run-in, we cast our eye over the trio’s remaining fixtures in an attempt to predict who will come out on top in the race for the title.
Read on to find out how we think it will all end:
Fixtures: Chelsea (h), West Ham (h), Bournemouth (a), Watford (h), Manchester United (a), Fulham (a), Cardiff (h), Crystal Palace (a), Tottenham (h), Burnley (a), Leicester (h), Brighton (a)
Bankers: West Ham, Watford, Fulham, Cardiff, Burnley, Brighton
Home games against West Ham, Watford and Cardiff should be a given for this free-scoring City side. Watford have a very impressive record away from home but, even so, City should be targeting the visit of the Hornets as a three-point banker.
Fulham and Cardiff are obvious selections yet Brighton could be slightly trickier. However, it is unlikely Pep’s men would come unstuck if three points were needed to seal the title.
Burnley’s recent form has been excellent but Manchester City like facing the Clarets. This season, they have played them twice in all competitions and won 5-0 both times.
Banana Skins: Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Leicester
Bournemouth showed what they are capable of in their recent demolition job of Chelsea at the Vitality Stadium and they could well be a tricky road fixture for City. You’d still expect them to win but this is one of those games that stands out as having the potential to be a coupon-buster.
Likewise, Selhurst Park has been a tricky venue for a number of title chasers, with Liverpool’s bid all-but ending there in 2013/14. Manchester City will need to approach this game with caution. Andros Townsend and Wilfred Zaha are as good as any in the top flight on their day and will be buoyed by their victory at the Etihad earlier this season.
Leicester are the other potential toughie, with the Foxes having established some pretty impressive form on the road. In fact, they have the seventh-best away record in the Premier League so City would be wise to not to take this one lightly. And, like Palace, they too have inflicted damage on the Citizens this season.
Must-wins: Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham
As is always the case in title battles, you have to beat the teams around you. City must face their Manchester rivals at Old Trafford while hosting London pair Chelsea and Spurs. With the injured duo, Harry Kane and Dele Alli, expected to be back in time to face City, it won’t be an easy game but Pep’s side should have too much quality for Tottenham.
The clash with a revitalised United is poised to be one of the games of the season and City must make sure they just don’t lose.
Projected points total: 30 points
Final finish: 92 points (first place)
Fixtures: Bournemouth (h), Manchester United (a), Watford (h), Everton (a), Burnley (h), Fulham (a), Tottenham (h), Southampton (a), Chelsea (h), Cardiff (a), Huddersfield (h), Newcastle (a), Wolves (h)
Bankers: Bournemouth, Watford, Burnley, Fulham, Cardiff, Huddersfield
The next game at home to Bournemouth is massive. Manchester City knocked the Reds off top spot with a win over Everton in midweek and after successive draws, Klopp’s side need to get back on the winning trail.
They have the home advantage against Watford, Burnley and Huddersfield so should easily dispatch all three and then face Premier League whipping boys Fulham and Cardiff on the road.
Banana Skins: Everton, Southampton, Newcastle
Southampton are showing improvement under new manager, Ralph Husenhuttl, so could prove to be a difficult opponent having lost just two of their last nine games.
The Merseyside derby is never easy and this is a must not lose rather than a must win. Klopp’s side will be expected to get the three points at Goodison but you can never bank on it.
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Newcastle will likely still need points to survive, so travelling to St James Park on the penultimate game of the season will be daunting. The Magpies will be backed by vociferous home support and Liverpool must deal with the occasion.
Must-wins: Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea, Wolves
Four must-wins remain on the Reds’ fixture list: the trip to Old Trafford against a resurgent United and games against Chelsea and Tottenham.
Liverpool’s recent ‘wobble’ has put some doubt in the mind about whether they can just turn up at Old Trafford and win, not something they would have been concerned about before Christmas. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has got United playing with freedom and a smile on their face again so this could be a crunch game in the title race.
Wolves on the last day may be crucial, depending on how the run-in turns out. This will be a case of getting the job done or choke. Liverpool must prove they are worthy to be crowned Champions.
Projected points total: 29 points
Final finish: 91 points (second place)
Fixtures: Leicester (h), Burnley (a), Chelsea (a), Arsenal (h), Southampton (a), Crystal Palace (h), Liverpool (a), Brighton (h), Huddersfield (h), Manchester City (a), West Ham (h), Bournemouth (a), Everton (h)
Bankers: Brighton, Huddersfield
Tottenham have a fairly difficult run-in, given the injuries to Davies, Kane and Alli but they should be able to bank on six points from the home games against both Brighton and Huddersfield.
Both sides are dreadful on the road and they are unlikely to suddenly find a solution to those problems that have plagued them away from home all season.
Banana Skins: Leicester, Burnley, Southampton, Crystal Palace, West Ham, Bournemouth
More banana skins here than a kid’s cartoon, yet Spurs have some tricky fixtures to get through if they are to stand any chance of challenging the current top two. Leicester are good on the road, Burnley have finally found some form and are the kind of team that Spurs traditionally struggle against.
Southampton are on the up under Husenhuttl, Palace are always tricky, though should be dispatched and both West Ham and Bournemouth can produce the odd result that makes you question why they aren’t more consistent.
Spurs will probably pick up the points in the majority of these, though none can be taken lightly.
Must-wins: Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Everton
With the gap between Spurs and the top two currently standing at five points, they must beat both Liverpool and City to have a chance of overtaking them. Losing is a big no-no and would almost certainly knock Tottenham out of the race if they are even in it to start with. Chelsea are there for the taking and Arsenal are as up-and-down as a camel’s back. Everton are beatable but a title challenge is a big ask for Pochettino’s men.
Projected points total: 27 points
Final Finish: 84 points (third place)