There is little difference between Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal at the top of the table as the Premier League enters the business end of the season
One team wants to make history. Another wants to give his old manager the perfect send-off. The other wants revenge. A storied English Premier League title race is heading towards a thrilling finish, with just two points separating the top three – Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal – with 15 games remaining.
Arsenal's 3-1 win over Liverpool on Sunday, followed by City's win over Brentford by the same scoreline on Monday, has set up what appears to be a three-way battle for English football's biggest prize. It has the potential to be the closest finish between three teams in a decade, with just four points separating eventual champions City, Liverpool and Chelsea after the final round of the 2013/2014 season.
Aston Villa in fourth and Tottenham in fifth, five and seven points off the pace respectively, could potentially be involved in the title race, but few can expect them to stay on course given the pedigree of the teams above them. Here's a closer look at the top three, what drives them to title glory and what could cause them to fall short:
LIVERPOOL (1st, 51 points after 23 games): Sure, Jurgen Klopp has won the Premier League with Liverpool, ending the legendary team's 30-year wait for the title. But that 2020 victory was tinged with the slightest regret because it took place during the pandemic and there were no fans at Anfield when then-Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and his teammates hoisted the trophy at The Kop. Doing so in front of a packed house and in the final days of Klopp's almost nine-year tenure would be a fitting way for the German to leave. Liverpool, who have the joint best defensive record in the league and are second in most goals scored, are yet to play City at home in mid-March and may have away games to test at Manchester United and Aston Villa. The biggest problem against Liverpool could be the fact that the team is still looking to win on four fronts, having reached the final of the English League Cup, the fifth round of the FA Cup and the last 16 of the Europa League . There will be a few on Thursday. There will be turnarounds on Sunday if the Reds go far in Europe, which they should do.
MANCHESTER CITY (2nd, 49 points after 22 games): No team in the history of English football, dating back to 1888, has won the top flight four years in a row. That's what City are trying to do as manager Pep Guardiola looks to break new ground for an Abu Dhabi-owned club that won the Champions League for the first time last year and the Premier League in seven of the past 12 seasons . For some, every trophy won by City now comes with an asterisk as the club comes under heavy scrutiny as it faces around 80 alleged breaches of the league's financial rules and a further 30 related to the alleged inability to cooperate with an investigation. That case will likely be heard next season. Currently, City are focusing on matters on the pitch and have won nine games in a row in all competitions, five of them in the league. City have a fully fit squad now that Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne are over their long-term injuries and also have a game in hand. Many assume that a successful title defense is likely, perhaps even inevitable.
ARSENAL (3rd, 49 points after 23 games): Arsenal's pursuit of a first league title since 2004 is fueled by a desire to make amends last season, when the team imploded in the final weeks after taking an eight-point lead with nine games remaining. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta seems to be performing better this season, allowing his team to take more control of the games and not go full throttle as in the first half of last season. He also has a deeper team at his disposal this time. His players will likely have learned lessons from last season, especially mentally, playing under pressure in every game and going up against an always fast-finishing City team. The dominant performance against Liverpool on Sunday can only boost confidence, with Arsenal seemingly overcoming the swings from both sides of Christmas, winning their last three games while scoring 10 goals. Injuries to key players are likely to affect Arsenal more than City or Liverpool, so Arteta will hope the likes of William Saliba, Declan Rice and Bukayo Saka can stay healthy for the run-in. Arsenal may have the toughest schedule, with away games at City, Tottenham and United.