how Liverpool became a title contender again in the Premier League

how Liverpool became a title contender again in the Premier League

Who could have imagined, in the heart of winter, that the Manchester City-Liverpool duel counting, Sunday April 10 (5:30 p.m.), for the 32and day of the Premier League, the English football championship, would be decisive for the title? In February, the Citizens were 14 points ahead of the Reds (who admittedly had two games behind) and seemed to be heading for an eighth coronation, the second in a row. While spring is well underway, the cards are reshuffled. City are only one point ahead of Liverpool.

The Reds have not lost in the Premier League since December 28 and a trip to Leicester (1-0)

If this clash at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester promises to be decisive, it will not yet be decisive, according to the coaches of the two teams. “If we win, we will be two points ahead, if we lose, we will be four points. If we draw, we will always be one point behind, detailed Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp at a press conference on Friday. And if people think it’s over then I can’t do anything about it but I know nobody has to. [Manchester] City won’t see it that way. » That’s exactly what his counterpart to the Citizens, Pep Guardiola, thinks: “These three points [en cas de victoire] will be very important, but there will still be seven games and 21 points to distribute. »

The dynamic now leans on the side of Liverpool. The Reds have not lost in the Premier League since December 28 and a trip to Leicester (1-0). On January 2, they were hooked on Chelsea (2-2), the last points left in the league. Since then, the Mersey club has been riding a series of ten consecutive Premier League victories.

At the same time, Manchester City lost a few points on the way by losing to Tottenham at home (3-2, February 19) then conceding two draws against modest opponents (1-1 at Southampton, January 22, and 0-0 against Crystal Palace on March 14). They thus allowed the red steamroller to come back on their heels.

Absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané

Yet little has been spared the Reds since January, which makes this comeback all the more fantastic. Engaged in the African Cup of Nations (CAN), its offensive stars, the Egyptian Mohamed Salah and the Senegalese Sadio Mané, respectively missed two and three league games in February. They were then gradually reinstated in the starting XI upon their return from AFCON. Then, at the end of March and the beginning of April, Jürgen Klopp had to spare his duo again before and after the qualifying play-offs for the 2022 World Cup.

Moreover, the CAN and the dams could have caused great damage to their formidable understanding and more broadly to Liverpool. Indeed, Sadio Mané’s Senegal won the CAN against Mohamed Salah’s Egypt before eliminating the Pharaohs to qualify for the World Cup.

This rivalry did not transpire so much when they returned in the same jersey. Especially since, statistically, the Reds are much more dependent on Mohamed Salah than on Sadio Mané. Top scorer in the Premier League, the first named has scored twenty goals and provided ten assists in the league while the second has twelve achievements and only two assists.

Luis Diaz Surprise

Liverpool did not see their game and their results suffer from the duo’s absence. Jürgen Klopp’s side are largely indebted to Diogo Jota, who have taken on another dimension this season. The Portuguese is the symbol of the depth of the workforce of the Reds, with his fourteen goals in twenty-seven games. Not bad for a sometimes substitute striker.

She also owes it to Luis Diaz. Recruited in January from FC Porto for a sum of between 45 and 60 million euros depending on the bonuses, the young Colombian (25) immediately adapted to his new environment. Not easy, however, to take the measure of Anfield and a club which has monopolized the titles in recent years (champion of England in 2020 and winner of the Champions League in 2019).

Read also: In the Champions League, Manchester City cracks Atlético, Liverpool takes an option against Benfica

In six Premier League games, Luis Diaz has already scored twice. He proves that his recruitment is not just a project for the future to compensate for the probable departure of Sadio Mané or Mohamed Salah. Both will reach the end of their contracts in June 2023 and Liverpool may be tempted to sign one of the two this summer to collect transfer compensation.

“I’ve said many times what I wish, but I really can’t go into detail right now because it’s a sensitive subject, explained Mohamed Salah, Friday, in an interview with the Sky Sports channel. I can’t come in front of the cameras and talk about this contract, I’m focused on the team, that’s the most important thing for me, to be focused to win trophies. »

To glean a twentieth title of champion of England and join Manchester United at the top of the list in the history of the championship, Liverpool has every interest in winning against Manchester City. In the event of a setback, a revenge against the same rival will present itself on Saturday April 16, in the semi-final of the FA Cup.

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