1 Fascinating race for the finish line continues…
As much as either set of supporters roll their eyes and sigh after the other wins, nobody could deny the 2018/19 Premier League title race is proving to be one of the most exciting yet.
It’s fair to say that, rivalries apart, there is a begrudging respect between City and Liverpool with neither side prepared to let the other out of reach – at least so far.
The fact is in almost any of the other Premier League campaigns, both would be pretty much nailed on to win the title by this stage – save for the unforgettable 2011/12 season when City and United were in an incredible last-second photo-finish.
The defending champions’ fate could arguably hinge on five crucial days where Spurs and Manchester United await.
Both need points to secure a top four finish, so they are hardly ‘dead rubber games’, if such a thing exists in the Premier League.
City would then need to beat Burnley, Leicester City and Brighton – all of whom could be safe by that stage – but again, are teams without worries not just as dangerous?
Pundits claim Liverpool have a more 'favourable' run-in – but Cardiff City have plenty to play for and while Huddersfield Town may be already relegated, Newcastle United and Wolves are unlikely to make life easy for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
For the Blues, the scenario is simple – win the last five league games and the title will be retained.
Much better, surely, to have to have your destiny in your own hands and not be hoping for your rival to slip-up?
2 De Bruyne timing impeccable
It was the performance every City fan had been waiting for.
The energy and industry mixed with vision and, at times, brilliance, Kevin De Bruyne showed against Crystal Palace suggests the Belgian could be reaching his best form at the perfect time.
That Europe’s premier goal creator last year has been absent for most of this season makes the Blues’ performances this campaign all the more incredible.
Imagine Chelsea without Eden Hazard for 30-odd games, Manchester United without Paul Pogba, Liverpool without Mo Salah, Barcelona without Lionel Messi… the list goes on.
De Bruyne at his best makes City purr like a Rolls Royce engine and he is likely to be pivotal to our hopes of additional silverware in the weeks that remain.
3 The rock that is Aymeric Laporte
While few could argue Virgil van Dijk has been outstanding for Liverpool this campaign, Aymeric Laporte’s continued excellence has almost slipped under the radar with the national media.
Laporte has been City’s rock throughout 2018/19, missing only three Premier League matches so far and has been the one constant of Pep Guardiola’s central defensive partnerships.
After the win at Palace, the boss claimed that Laporte had been incredible for his team this season, and while he may not get the plaudits some of his contemporaries receive, he has been no less effective.
“We know what he has done for us this season,” said Pep and it is richly deserved praise for a player who quietly goes about his work week in, week out.
Strong on the floor and the air, quick, intelligent and with a passing range most midfielders would sell their soul for, Laporte is in many ways, the perfect defender.