Title Decider? Liverpool vs Spurs & Manchester City vs Newcastle United Preview
Just four games to go for Liverpool and Manchester City. Just a point separates them in what’s been yet another title race for the ages between Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. From this point on, Man City are undoubtedly favourites to win the title. A point lead and no remaining top six fixtures to play, puts them in excellent stead to take home their fourth Premier League title in five years.
Liverpool will be more than determined to stop this from happening, as they have ambitions to become the first ever side to win all four available trophies. They already have the Carabao [League] Cup and have reached both the UCL and FA Cup finals. Klopp and Liverpool could become the greatest British side to ever do it, or they could end up as simply the League Cup winners, all before the end of the month.
With both sides having sealed their fates in the other competitions, the sole focus is now the league and only the league. Both sides have jobs to do.
Liverpool vs Spurs
Arguably the toughest game that either side have left in their run-in. Spurs are fighting for a place in the top four and will have massive motivation to go to Anfield and take points from Liverpool. With the form Arsenal are in, Spurs cannot afford to drop points.
Here’s how the race for top four is currently looking with four games to play:
- 4th – Arsenal – PLD 34, W 20, D 3, L 11 – PTS 63
- 5th – Spurs – PLD 34, W 19, D 4, L 11 – PTS 61
As you can see, it’s practically neck and neck in the race for top four. This sets up the North London Derby very nicely. Arsenal are banking on a Liverpool victory, but Antonio Conte will certainly have other ideas. He came to Spurs with a big job on his hands, they were desperate for leadership and some certainty after the poor stint of Nuno Espirito-Santo. Conte answered the prayers and if he gets his side into the UCL next season it would be an incredible achievement.
A Tactical Overview
Antonio Conte’s Spurs will be very much ready to use Liverpool’s high intensity attacking nature to their advantage. Conte plays a very defensive, counter attacking system a lot of the time, particularly in the big games when they are under pressure. Conte’s three back system has returned, which could spell danger for Liverpool, who have struggled against Chelsea’s similar formation.
When being attacked, Conte’s wing backs will drop deep and make a five-man defensive line, and in attack, they will bomb forward to offer support to the attacking players. Emerson Royal and Ryan Sessengon have been adopting these roles for the past two fixtures, as the pair have a youthful energy and offer great speed down the flanks. This strikes similarities with Liverpool’s own full backs who love to get up the pitch as we know.
When this happens, Conte’s side will look to mount strong counter attacks. This has been a feature in this fixture, even before Conte was involved. Getting around Liverpool’s fullbacks is the easy bit due to the high line; the roadblock will come from Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, two colossal defenders who are excellent one on one.
Liverpool will look to be playing as they usually do, throwing bodies forward and feeding their wide men. Luis Diaz and Mo Salah will be up to their usual tricks on the flanks.
- GK: Alisson Becker
- RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold
- CB: Virgil van Dijk
- CB: Joel Matip
- LB: Kostas Tsimikas
- CM: Jordan Henderson
- CDM: Fabinho
- CM: Thiago Alcantara
- RW: Mohamed Salah
- ST: Diogo Jota
- LW: Luis Diaz
Liverpool will rest and rotate the squad that beat Villarreal in midweek, they will maintain a strong XI as they always do and still have the firepower necessary to hurt Spurs. Diaz was excellent from the bench in the UCL win and has earned his place in the XI. van Dijk’s place could be at risk, simply due to the amount he’s played as of late, but I still believe Klopp will go with his trusted man.
- GK: Hugo Lloris
- RB: Emerson Royal
- CB: Ben Davies
- CB: Cristian Romero
- CB: Eric Dier
- LB: Ryan Sessengon
- CM: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
- CM: Rodrigo Bentancur
- RW: Dejan Kulusevski
- ST: Harry Kane
- LW: Heung-Min Son
Spurs will stick relatively close to the side that beat Leicester last week, with just one change. Kulusevski will return to the side after missing out in their previous game. The Swedish winger has been a revelation for Spurs since his arrival, and his quickness in dribbling and combinations with Kane and Son will be vital against Liverpool. He will certainly give Tsimikas a job to do.
I can see this game being very close and tough for both sides, but you can’t get away from Liverpool to win. A set-piece goal and something special from the attackers will be enough to stop Spurs, who’s only goal will come from Harry Kane. 2-1 Liverpool.
Manchester City vs Newcastle United
This fixture is a much more routine title race game. Newcastle have all but secured Premier League survival under Eddie Howe and have little to play for in their final three fixtures, whereas City has everything to play for. The Premier League is the last available trophy to them, and they are within touching distance. They must remain calm and disciplined.
A Shock Exit
On Wednesday night, City travelled to the Santiago Bernabeu to face Real Madrid in the Champions League semis. They were 4-3 up on aggregate and the game was playing into their hands well. Madrid were not creating anything. It looked like a breeze for City. Then, Riyad Mahrez made it look impossible for Real to win. He scored to put his side two up on aggregate with around 15 minutes to go. Real Madrid were down, but as always, not out.
Brazilian winger Rodrygo, 21, from the bench did the impossible by poaching two goals in two minutes, equalling the aggregate score, and sending the tie to extra-time. City fans were silenced, Blue Moon was ringing around the ground just minutes before. In extra-time, Benzema was fouled by Dias in the box and won a penalty. The Frenchman dispatched it as cool as you like, and City were out.
It was devastating for Guardiola’s side, who had performed decently on the night. And while the wound is fresh now, it may be a blessing in disguise for City’s league charge. As full focus will now be on winning the league and making sure they win something this season.
A nickname given to this fixture due to the owners of each side being extremely rich. It will be a very interesting affair. Newcastle are striving to follow in the footsteps of the Manchester club and become a top side in England. This fixture may have more weight to it in a few years’ time but as for right now, it should be a breeze for City, simply because of their quality. Newcastle are still a great side under Howe but Pep’s City take a lot to be beaten.
- GK: Ederson
- RB: Joao Cancelo
- CB: Ruben Dias
- CB: Aymeric Laporte
- LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko
- CM: Rodrigo
- CM: Ilkay Gundogan
- RM: Jack Grealish
- CAM: Bernardo Silva
- LM: Raheem Sterling
- ST: Phil Foden
I can see City reverting to a 4-2-3-1, similarly to how they played against Leeds recently. Sterling will certainly start, whilst Grealish and Gundogan were impressive in their cameos and will also make the XI. They will look to dominate the ball and utilise the individual brilliance of Grealish and Silva to create chances with Foden and Sterling on the end of them.
- GK: Martin Dubravka
- RB: Emil Krafth
- CB: Fabian Schar
- CB: Dan Burn
- LB: Matt Targett
- CM: Bruno Guimaraes
- CM: Jonjo Shelvey
- CM: Joe Willock
- RW: Miguel Almiron
- ST: Joelinton
- LW: Allan Saint-Maximin
Newcastle will go with an unchanged side from their previous fixture against Liverpool. They performed very well and only allowed Liverpool to score once. If a similar defensive display can be shown on Sunday, they may have a shot against City. Newcastle under Howe have massive character and resilience.
Despite this, I just can’t see City losing. I think they’ll be out for blood after the Madrid game and will cruise past Newcastle for the second time in a season with a 4-1 victory.
Where to watch the title race live on TV in the UK
- Liverpool vs Spurs – Saturday 7th May – 17:30 BST – Live on BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Ultimate.
- Manchester City vs Newcastle United – Sunday 8th May – 16:30 BST – Live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event.
No room for slip ups now!
Author: Jude Sutcliffe