At the start of the Premier League season there were only two names on the lips of pundits predicting the title winners: Liverpool and Manchester City.
The reasons were this for obvious. The prior campaign, Liverpool had blown their competition away, racking up an obscene 99 points, dominating pretty much all football stats and losing just three games. City, who finished 18 points adrift of the champions, were their only real challengers, with third placed Manchester United finishing an incredible 36 points shy of the Reds.
However, this season’s Premier League title race has defied everyone’s predictions. At the time of writing, United sit top of the pile, two points ahead of City in second and three points better off than reigning champions Liverpool, who themselves are one adrift of third place Leicester.
With all that in mind, is it time to start labelling the fight for top as a three horse race? We analysed the current state of affairs to find out.
The strongest evidence supporting the argument for the three horse race is Liverpool’s remarkable, recent regression. Much of the chatter around the Reds has centred around their lack of solid, defensive options. Starting centre-back pairing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez both suffered bad injuries towards the start of the campaign with midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson filling in recently. Despite the makeshift nature of their backline, it is not in defence where Liverpool have been struggling.
Instead, it is their once mighty front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino who are being questioned. Possibly run down from playing so much football in recent seasons, the trio have not been clicking, with Liverpool failing to score in each of their last three Premier League games.
This suggests that the Reds are not the all-conquering force they once were, opening the door for a much more competitive title race.
If you’d have said after United’s 6-1 defeat to Spurs that they would be top of the Premier League table in January, few people would have believed you. However, in recent weeks, the Red Devils have been in brilliant form.
Fuelled by the resurgence of Paul Pogba and the incredible talent of Bruno Fernandes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have not lost in the league since 1 November, when Arsenal snuck a 1-0 win at Old Trafford. Their spirited draw against Liverpool recently was a real indication of how much their mentality has improved.
United’s away record is also nothing short of sensational. They are unbeaten on their travels, racking up seven wins and two draws from their nine road games. If they can replicate this at Old Trafford, they have a serious chance of extending their lead over Liverpool and City.
A Four, Five, Six, Seven Horse Race?!
Of course, we should also mention the likes of Leicester, Tottenham, Everton and perhaps even Chelsea, who could still all have a big say in one of the most unpredictable Premier League title races in years.