Whether We Win The League Or Not, There’s No Room For ‘What Ifs’

If you didn’t know much about football and were asked after watching the weekend’s matches which team had won the Premier League a few times and which one had yet to win the top-flight since its rebranding at the start of the 1990s, I’m not sure you’d put the teams the right way round. Admittedly, Huddersfield Town are a decidedly easier proposition than Burnley at Turf Moor, but even bearing that in mind you’d have to admit that Manchester City have looked decidedly nervy for their last few matches. They’re nervily making their way towards 98 point and a second title in succession, of course, so I realise that those words do look slightly hollow, but it’s enough to give me hope that maybe, just maybe Leicester City can get something when they go to the Etihad next weekend. It’s straw clutching, of course, but what else are we supposed to do at this point?

Liverpool were always going to get the three points from a genuinely dreadful Huddersfield team, but the ease with which we went about dismantling the Terriers was a sight to see. With just three games left, we absolutely destroyed them without ever having to get out of second gear. Both Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah will be taking all sorts of confidence with them into the game at the Camp Nou, whilst the entire team will have received a boost by seeing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain running out onto the Anfield turf. The assists for both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson will have helped to remove any fatigue they might have been feeling in their legs, with both Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez giving the manager options in the back four moving forward. There is a confidence and vibrancy running through the club at the moment, but for some supporters there’s still the need for an inquest that I think is less than helpful.

Manchester City Are Very, Very Good

As I said in the piece that I wrote last week, any sensible football supporter will spend the summer pointing to Manchester City’s less than ok financial behaviour over the past year or so as proof positive that there should always be an asterisk next to their name and the trophies won under Sheikh Mansour’s time at the helm of the club. Their supporters will disagree, of course, but ultimately it would be a ludicrous protest at a time when four different governmental bodies are investigating them for their misdeeds. Yet neither the players nor the manager can think about that sort of thing, instead concentrating on beating the teams that are put in front of them. That’s what they’ve been doing at a rate that is, frankly, astonishing. Ask anyone in January how many points the two teams would drop before the end of the season and they’d almost certainly say between 5 and 10 for both sides.

As it has transpired so far, Liverpool dropped eleven and City dropped three. Pep Guardiola’s team have won fifteen Premier League games in a row and will almost certainly go on to win seventeen. That would equate to fifty-one points since the turn of the year, placing the Cityzens comfortably in eighth place, or alongside Leicester, whichever you’d prefer. Nobody sensible thought that they’d be able to win all of their games. Virtually everyone said that they’d drop points somewhere and it would just be about which team could drop the fewest, us or them. Yet instead they’ve gone on to win every single one of them when it comes to their Premier League encounters. It’s worth noting that they sacrificed their place in the Champions League to do it, of course, but the point is that their success in the domestic competition means their shouldn’t be too many recriminations against the Reds.

We’ve Been Fortunate At Times, So Pointing To Specific Games Is Pointless

I’ve seen more than a few people point to our draws with Leicester City and West Ham United as proof positive that Liverpool have ‘thrown away’ the title. The problem is that that happily ignores the number of times we’ve been rather fortunate, including the moment that Jordan Pickford decided to use his tiny arms to inexplicably keep the ball in play during the Merseyside derby and hand us two points we probably didn’t really deserve. It also imagines that Manchester City aren’t also looking at results against the likes of Crystal Palace and Newcastle United and wondering why they didn’t win them. If you disappear down the rabbit hole of ‘what ifs’ then you you have to explore every variation on the same theme, which people are weirdly reluctant to do. Why is it just the Reds who should look back at disappointing results and say ‘we should have done better’?

Riyad Mahrez, lest we forget, missed a penalty at Anfield that would have seen City pretty much have the title wrapped up by now had it gone in. It’s also worth pointing out that fortune works both ways and just as we’ve been on the receiving end of some poor fortune, so too have Guardiola’s team had remarkable luck at times. From the offside goals they’ve been given through to the red card that Vincent Kompany should have been shown in the game against us at the Etihad, if you want to start discussing how things should have been different then you need to look at all the variations available. Aside from anything else, this Liverpool team has been absolutely sensation. We’re almost certainly going to get more points than any Premier League team other than the last two Manchester City sides, so they deserve praise not recriminations. It’s disappointing that we might not win the title, but this has never felt like it’s a flash in the pan so I think we’ll be back stronger than ever before when next season gets underway.

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