Why Manchester City Are Still Not EPL Title Favourites Despite Arsenal, Liverpool Stumbles

Why Manchester City Are Still Not EPL Title Favourites Despite Arsenal, Liverpool Stumbles

Martin Moses
updated at April 15, 2024 at 2:44 PM
In this article:
Manchester City logo
Manchester City
Liverpool logo
Arsenal logo
English Premier League logo
ENG Premier League
  • Manchester City ascended to the top of the English Premier League table on April 14
  • Arsenal and Liverpool suffered surprise defeats to hand the champions the advantage
  • However, Sports Brief expounds on why the Citizens' remain 'disadvantaged' in the race

⚽️ Bookmark Sports Brief's Live Football Fixtures; Live Scores; Results and Tables section ⚽️

The 2023/2024 Premier League season took a seismic shift over the weekend, and our crystal ball tells us it won't be the last one.

For the first time since November, Manchester City regained control of proceedings after Liverpool and Arsenal surprisingly collapsed to Crystal Palace and Aston Villa, respectively.

Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, MIkel Arteta, LIverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Premier League title race, the run-in
Pep Guardiola's Manchester City is leading the Premier League table again after their win against Luton Town at the Etihad Stadium on April 13, 2024. Photo by Martin Rickett.
Source: Getty Images

History shows that allowing a Pep Guardiola side to hit the front during the run-in is suicidal. Manchester City have the wherewithal and a manager with the tactical acumen to lead them to a record-breaking fourth consecutive top flight title.

However, with only two points separating the top three teams and six games left, methinks the Citizens will still have their work cut out for them.

Why Manchester City are not EPL favourites

For starters, it is the first time that Guardiola is facing two teams for the same league title.

Over the years, it has always been his team against one other team, but this time, he will have to fend off challenges from two very formidable teams - their results this weekend notwithstanding.

1. Champions League and fixture congestion

Guardiola has always been vocal about the many fixtures his side have to face with little to no help from the Premier League. Rodri recently asked for a rest after the away leg at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium as the fixtures keep cranking up.

To make matters worse, there are no 'easy' games at this point, and Guardiola doesn't have the luxury to heavily rotate. After the return leg on Wednesday, they face Chelsea three days later in the FA Cup semi-final before Brighton a few days later.

Compared to their two rivals, they are better placed, on paper, to advance further in both competitions. Will it affect their title pursuit?

2. The Tottenham Hotspur question

Of Manchester City's remaining Premier League fixtures, none will give Guardiola sleepless nights more than the trip to North London on May 14.

As Transfermarkt stats show, of the 19 games Guardiola has faced Spurs, he has only won nine and lost seven. Not many clubs have such a ratio against the Spaniard. Somehow, they always have the Spaniard's number every season.

Ange Postecoglou's side dug deep in the reverse fixture to force a three-all draw. Additionally, Spurs will equally be motivated to get the guaranteed Champions League spot by finishing fourth.

Don't say we never gave you a plan for May 14. Be there.

3. Erling Haaland's 'dwindling fortunes'

It actually sounds insane to say that a striker who has scored 20 goals this season, the most of any player, per the Premier League website, is struggling or, in Roy Keane's words, 'a League Two' player.

Against Luton on April 13, Kevin de Bruyne weighted a perfect pass, as he always does, towards the Norwegian striker. If that was last season, the only result was Haaland peeling away in celebration. But somehow, against the Hatters, he missed the target.

There are genuine concerns about his finishing touch this season. But again, after you score 52 goals in your debut season, the bar is always going to be high.

Can he rediscover that devastating touch at this critical point of the season?

4. Clutch players weren't replaced

I don't think this is stated enough about how Ilkay Gundogan was instrumental in Guardiola's success over the years. The former captain always stepped up in the run-in: the brace against Aston Villa two years ago was the most memorable of all.

The German was replaced by Mateo Kovacic, with Riyad Mahrez also leaving and Jeremy Doku taking his place. No disrespect to the new arrivals, but they aren't of the same profile as Gundogan and Mahrez.

At a time when Guardiola needs everyone on deck, can Kovacic, Matheus Nunes, and Doku have the same impact the stars of last year's treble-winning campaign had?

But after all is said and done, it must be remembered that Man City and Guardiola have been here before and done it. They thrive in such high-pressure situations and any further missteps by Arsenal or Liverpool will be capitalised on.

Remaining fixtures of EPL contenders

Sports Brief has also compared the remaining EPL fixtures of the top three. Man City remain with tricky ties against Brighton and Tottenham before wrapping up their campaign against West Ham.

Arsenal have a North London derby on the horizon, and a trip to Old Trafford on the second-last day is also on the cards as the Gunners hope to avoid bottling the title for a successive campaign.

Liverpool, meanwhile, are yet to play the UEFA Champions League-chasing Aston Villa away, while a visit to Everton in the Merseyside derby could also be murky waters for manager, Jurgen Klopp.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)
Pep GuardiolaMikel ArtetaJürgen Klopp