With Tottenham Hotspur’s loss to Manchester United (thanks to an 11 save effort from David de Gea), followed by news that Harry Kane will be out until March, the 2018-19 Premier League title race is down to two teams: Liverpool and Manchester City.
After 22 games, Liverpool are currently four points atop City. The two powerhouses won’t face each other again, and each are favored to win all of their remaining games.
That doesn’t mean that they will.
Here’s where Liverpool and Manchester City could stumble down the stretch. All percentages are based on FiveThirtyEight match predictions.
Liverpool are favored to win every remaining match, and are at least 60% for every fixture except one: A trip to Old Trafford against Manchester United on February 24. They’re currently only 53% to win and 23% to draw there.
While United has been on a major upswing since sacking Jose Mourinho, Liverpool matches up well against them. Lost in all of the hoopla around David de Gea’s 11 save performance is that David de Gea HAD TO MAKE 11 ON TARGET SAVES. United’s backline has issues. Regardless, if ManU keep the momentum going, the Old Trafford crowd will be raucous and Liverpool will be fortunate not to drop points.
Other than that, the schedule sets up well with two major tests both at Anfield. Liverpool get Tottenham on March 30th (potentially without Harry Kane) and Chelsea on April 13th. They’re favored at 60% and 61% respectively for those.
Two potential sneaky fixtures to watch out for: Away games at Cardiff City (04/20) and Newcastle (05/04). Both teams may be fighting for their relegation lives, and if so, could catch the Reds off-guard.
Like Liverpool, City is favored in all remaining matches. Like Liverpool, all of their most difficult remaining fixtures are at home except for one, which, also like Liverpool, is against Manchester United.
The Manchester derby takes place March 16th. City project as a 54% winner and 22% draw. The timing here is critical for City. A loss would potentially put City at 7 points back of Liverpool two weeks before the Reds play the Red Devils. If so, would City shift focus entirely to the Champions League and make it smoother sailing for Liverpool?
If both teams keep churning out wins going into April, two potential sneaky match-ups for City include a trip to their random nemesis Crystal Palace on April 13th (only 63% win, 21% draw) and a final match-day game away at Brighton Hove & Albion (72% win, 18% draw). BHA held Liverpool to a narrow 1-0 win. If the season comes down to the final day and every point matters, expect the Seagulls to relish the role of spoilers.