We are entering what is likely to be a crucial period in the Premier League title race. That is not just hype, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has identified City’s next three games in the title race as being critical to their chances of landing the title for the second year in a row.

With Liverpool coming through their tricky period of games with three huge wins, at home to Tottenham and Chelsea and also away at an improving Southampton side, City may have hoped their rivals would have dropped points in those games. Now City face their own severe test as they also take on Tottenham, before facing two tough away games, against rivals Manchester United and then relegation-threatened Burnley.

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Let’s now take a look at how things stand currently in the Premier League.

Premier League Table

  1. Liverpool – Played 34, Points 85, GD +57
  2. Man City – Played 33, Points 83, GD +64

Remaining Fixtures

Liverpool

  • V Cardiff City (A) – Sunday 21st April
  • V Huddersfield (H) – Friday 26th April
  • V Newcastle (A) – Sunday 5th May
  • V Wolves (H) – Sunday 12th May

Manchester City

  • V Tottenham (H) – Sat 20th April
  • V Man Utd (A) – Wed 24th April
  • V Burnley (A) – Sun 28th April
  • V Leicester City (H) – Sat 4th April
  • V Brighton (A) – Sun 12th April

It is also worth noting that both teams also have at least one more Champions League game to play. Liverpool face FC Porto tonight in Portugal leading 2-0 from the first leg at Anfield, while Manchester City are 1-0 down to Tottenham, who they play in the league on Saturday, after their first leg tie in London last week.

Should both City and Liverpool get through then City would face Ajax in one Champions League semifinal, while Liverpool would face Barcelona in the other. Then if both come through that game, then they would also play in the final at the very end of the season.

City also have the FA Cup Final to play on the 19th May when they will face Watford at Wembley.

This means Liverpool could have a further four games to play in addition to their league commitments, while Manchester City could have a further five to play, although two of City’s potential games and one of Liverpool’s would come after the end of the Premier League season.

Comparison in terms of games played

With Liverpool being eliminated in the early stages of both the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup this season, Manchester City have played far more games than their title rivals. City opened the season with the Charity Shield win over Chelsea and they then landed their second trophy with the Carabao Cup win over the same opponents at Wembley in February. They have also reached the FA Cup Final. Both teams have played the same number of games in the Champions League with Liverpool playing one more fixture in the Premier League.

In terms of games, that means City have played around ten games more than Liverpool at this stage of the season, many of those games coming after Christmas, so if fatigue is going to be an issue, then it is more likely that it will be Manchester City players that suffer from it.

Squad Depth

However, where City have an advantage over Liverpool is in terms of their squad depth. The Citizens have a massive squad of talented players with many players rotated in and out of the team on a regular basis to ensure they get enough rest. Liverpool’s squad lacks the depth of City’s and while both teams have had players injured at key points of the season, both are close to having a squad of almost fully fit players, with just a couple of exceptions in each.

Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be set to return shortly after lengthy injury absences and Adam Lallana has also recovered from a knock for Liverpool, for whom Dejan Lovren is also getting his way back to full fitness. City have slight concerns over the likes of Sergio Aguero and Kyle Walker, but both should be fit to play key roles in the run in.

The Crucial Period

Having beaten Tottenham, then Southampton and then Chelsea, Liverpool fans feel their team has navigated a tough period of games in style. City now have that challenge as after their Champions League game this week, they now face Tottenham on Saturday, followed by Manchester United away on Wednesday and then Burnley away the following weekend.

The long and short of it is, with games at home to Leicester and away to Brighton to come, City would fancy themselves to get six points from these games and so if they can win these three games coming up in the next fortnight or so, then they will be Champions.

However, Tottenham have shown that they can cause City plenty of problems and an away game against their local rivals Manchester United is never going to be easy. Burnley too are tough to beat at home and that game will come after a run of four games in around ten days for City that will test even their burgeoning squad resources.

In contrast, Liverpool have a week’s rest almost from their game with Cardiff at the weekend, until they face Huddersfield on the following Friday night. That could well be crucial, although that Cardiff game has got a lot harder after the Bluebirds win over Brighton last night meant they closed the gap on the Seagulls, and potential safety, to just two points.

Neil Warnock is also no fan of Liverpool from Rafa Benitez time at the club and he will be keen to put one over the Reds not just to dent their title hopes, but to boost Cardiff’s chances of staying in the league.

How will things go?

In truth, Liverpool should win all four of their remaining games and if they are going to stand a chance of winning the Premier League title, they may well need to as I think City will win at least four of their five remaining games. The one sticking points is either going to be Spurs at home or United away, where I could potentially see City dropping a couple of points. If they do, then Liverpool could win the title by a point. If not, then City will be deserving winners of the most incredible Premier League title race in history.