Fans tend to lose their minds a little bit when it comes to the business end of a Premier League season, especially when it throws up a race as a close as the one that we are seeing between Manchester City and Liverpool. People, fuelled by social media, get struck with a kind of apophenia, making connections between unrelated things, almost willing the triumph into existence.
We know, of course, titles aren’t decided by the hand of providence. Liverpool’s last-minute winner against Tottenham last week was not put in place to act as a sign to fans that they are going to win the title; rather, it’s the sort of reward given to a team who are full of confidence and belief.
Indeed, we shouldn’t look at how serendipity has aided Liverpool’s title bid in the past few months, but instead to look at what is coming in the near future. Liverpool have a much kinder set of fixtures than Manchester City, with three of the five games at fortress Anfield. City have four of six games away from home, including a trip to Old Trafford on 24th April.
Liverpool should be closer to evens
So, it begs the question, why are Liverpool odds against in the latest Premier League odds? 888sport have cited the Reds at 6/4 to end the almost 30-year wait for a title, with City penned in at 11/20. It’s quite the statement by bookmakers, considering how much of a knife-edge the title race seems to be resting on.
For context, let’s look at those fixtures. Liverpool face: Chelsea, Wolves and Huddersfield at home, Newcastle and Cardiff away. City face: Tottenham and Leicester at home, United, Crystal Palace, Burnley and Brighton away. While City’s fixtures objectively look a bit tougher, you should also consider that away form is statistically weaker than home form. City have dropped 13 points away from the Etihad this season, so playing four out of the final six games away could prove difficult.
Of course, Manchester City should not be discounted. There is a reason they have been cited as favourites, just as they 11/5 favourites for the Champions League – they are a special side, arguably the best team on the planet. But success also comes at a cost of tough fixtures piling up. For example, City must play the Champions League 2nd leg against Tottenham on the 17th April (this is being written the day before the 1st leg), followed by Tottenham again in the league on 20th April, then United in the league four days later.
Daunting fixtures for City
One shouldn’t dismiss Porto as opposition, but it feels like a relatively serene draw for Liverpool when compared to the blood-letting that should ensue between City and Tottenham. While City must face its rivals right after the Champions League, Liverpool will face already-relegated Huddersfield and Cardiff. Incidentally, Liverpool have more rest between those games, playing Cardiff on the 21st and Huddersfield on the 26th April.
Certainly, nobody should be rushing to anoint Liverpool as Premier League champions. If Manchester City win their next six games, they will be champions. And, nobody will be the least bit surprised if they manage to do that. However, if you look at the facts of what is on the horizon for both clubs, you could make an argument that those odds should be a little lower for Liverpool, perhaps towards even money. As it stands, they look a smart bet for the title.