The 2018/19 Premier League season saw one of the closest and most exciting title races in recent years between Manchester City and Liverpool. Two of the best English teams, boasting with some of the best attackers, midfielders and the best defenders in the Premier League, went head-to-head until the very last day of EPL when it was the Sky Blues who finished ahead by a single point. What makes Liverpool’s inability to finish above Manchester United even more painful was the fact that Liverpool lost only 1 match throughout the whole season, which only proves every little detail, every little mistake can and will turn around and bite you in the end. For Liverpool, it was their 1 too many draw, which proved to be their doom.
The close title race and the “defeat” of Liverpool despite losing only 1 match raises the question. Where was that small detail that separated the two sides by a single point? Was it pure luck, was it the superior offence or maybe even the superior defence of one team? Manchester City finished the season with 95 goals scored and 23 conceded, while the Reds finished with 89 goals scored and 22 conceded. Clearly, Manchester City performed slightly better in the offensive end, by scoring 6 goals more, on the other side, the two sides performed equally well in the defensive end, making it seems they are equally matched when it comes to defending their goal, but is that the case? And will their defensive strength remain on the same level heading into 2019/20 season?
Both of the sides proved to be defensive powerhouses of EPL in 2018/19 season. The fact that they both conceded by far the least goals out of all teams speaks volumes. To put it simply Liverpool were better at preventing their opponents from winning, while Manchester City were better at winning itself. If we draw a line, both City and Liverpool were exceptional when it comes defending the goal and should they perform equally well in the upcoming season, there is no about the number of conceded goals should not exceed the 30 mark. However, there were some changes in the defensive line for one of the teams, which might prove to have a noticeable effect on their defensive strength.
Manchester City will enter the 2019/20 season with a few changes to their defensive line and possibility of more to come. Of course, we must acknowledge the departure of City captain Vincent Kompany, who singlehandedly win Manchester City the EPL title. As a player who spent 11 years at Ethiad, he was a true powerhouse in the defence which will leave a huge hole for Manchester City to fill. As it was reported, Guardiola will look at Phil Foden to prove his worth in the upcoming season, after he saw the potential of the youngster last season. Additionally, it was said, the 18-year-old Academy player Eric Garcia could step into the senior team following his exceptional performances last season, which caught the attention of Manchester City boss. Will Foden be able to step into Kompany’s shoes is anyone’s guess, however, with the talent he showcased, there is no doubt that with time Foden will prove to be a good replacement for the former captain.
Liverpool on the other side have not made many changes as far as their defensive players go and quite frankly, they did not seem like they need to make any. As the saying goes “don’t fix it if it’s not broken”. Liverpool’s defence was phenomenal last season and arguably the key factor which helped them to compete in a close title race. With names such as van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson and others their backline, there is simply not a lot of room for manoeuvre. It is worth mentioning that the Reds added the young talent Sepp van den Berg to their team, hoping to mould him into a future star.
So how do the two teams stack up against each other?
With no changes to Liverpool’s defence and quite a significant move for Manchester City, it will all come down to the question of how the Sky Blues can perform without Kompany and will there be more players arriving at the club this summer. There is no doubt the team has some exceptional players in their ranks, but when it comes to figuring out if there is anyone who can step into Kompany’s shoes the answer gets more blurry. Foden is expected to be the man to carry this responsibility and should he live up to the expectations, the 2019/20 season should once more see the two sides equally matches in the defensive end, which just might produce yet another close title race between the two sides. At this point, we must mention City has been trying to add João Cancelo to their team to strengthen their defence, however, the transfer is not yet done, nor is it 100% João Cancelo will move to City.
Will it be the offence, midfield or defence that will decide the upcoming season is yet to be seen, however, one thing is for sure. There will be no Kompany to save Manchester City dreams with a game-winning goal in 37th round of EPL.