Manchester City eye autumn advantage over Liverpool
MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Aug 30, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Manchester City may
trail Liverpool by two points in the early season running for the Premier
League title, but opportunity knocks for the champions in a two-month stretch
beginning with Saturday’s visit of Brighton to the Etihad.
The visit of the Seagulls is the first of eight Premier League games Pep
Guardiola’s men face against sides outside of the traditional “top six”
before a daunting trip to Liverpool on November 9.
That run could see City travel to Anfield with a comfortable lead in the
title race, with Liverpool set to face Chelsea, Manchester United and
Tottenham in the meantime.
The form book over City’s last two title-winning seasons certainly suggests
Guardiola will be expecting his team to collect maximum points over the next
couple of months.
Including comfortable wins already this season on the road against West Ham
and Bournemouth – by a combined 8-1 scoreline – since the start of the 2017-
18 season, City have won 50 of the 58 games they have played against the 14
clubs outwith the top six in the Premier League.
Liverpool, the only side to have started the new season with three wins out
of three, will hope that City finally start to falter.
But with everyone apart from the two north-west giants showing early-season
inconsistency, the fact remains that the title may be reduced to a two-horse
race by the time the clubs meet in November.
After Brighton, City face home games against struggling Watford, Wolves,
Aston Villa and Southampton and travel to Norwich, Everton and Crystal
And Guardiola insists he can only concentrate on maintaining the standards
he has set in his second and third seasons in charge.
“I’m not going to think about many points we need to be champions, or if
Liverpool’s going to win or if we’re going to win,” he said.
“I know the opponent we have in Liverpool and all the other teams,
especially the contenders, but what we are looking for, from the first day I
came here, is to try to play in the way we have played.
“I think we dignify this sport, we dignify the people who pay to come to
watch us and see how honest we are – to play for the people. And, more than
anything, I would like – when I finish my period here – to leave that.
“The first season, but especially the last two seasons, we were an
Key to City’s success has been the strength in depth available to Guardiola
and he could hand first starts of the season to new signing Joao Cancelo and
Fernandinho, who has fallen down the pecking order since Rodrigo’s arrival.
Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane and Benjamin Mendy miss out through injury, while
John Stones remains a doubt.