Most were hoping for a bit more of a contest in the big game last night. Liverpool have undoubtedly improved under Kenny Dalglish and Manchester City haven’t blazed a trail of late in the same way that they did through the Autumn. Perhaps then, this was the perfect indicator as to where both teams are on their respective arcs.
If we are to use this game as a barometer then Manchester City are indeed on course for their first taste of Premier League success, and their first title since 1968. They have dropped a few points of late but what really strikes you about Manchester City is their clinical array of attackers.
The main difference between the sides last night was that the Manchester club knows how to finish. They can play moderately well and still win comfortably because their strikers don’t mess about. Roberto Mancini rather comically claimed, before the match, that he had to juggle his team because there was no way that his boys could play two games in 48 hours. But, such is the embarrassment of riches at ‘Middle Eastlands’ that, even after the enforced ‘juggle’ Manchester City’s team sheet looked fearsome and included Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko up front. Their options really are frightening and they have also been very lucky with injuries so far. It would be interesting to see how they would cope if they were suddenly befallen by a long sick list. But, meantime, they are swatting the majority of teams with ease and when you look at their remaining fixtures you have to fear for the other title pretenders because Manchester City have played the majority of their hardest games already – certainly away from home. Meantime, they seem only to have to turn up to win their home games. United will battle on but they continue to be crippled by injuries. A fiver on Tottenham then?
Meanwhile, Liverpool FC seem to remain a chromosome short of brilliant. Unlike Manchester City, they have noone to replace their big hitters and without Luis Suarez they were alarmingly toothless up front last night. Andy Carroll again failed to make any kind of imprint on the game and his mooted loan back to Newcastle doesn’t look beyond the realms of possibility. You would certainly take a bargain basement Bellamy over the clumsy Carroll at this point in time. But Liverpool fans can breathe easy as this is not a team in stasis, let alone in decline. They continue to improve the strength and depth of their squad and, although questions remain over the signings of Jordan Henderson and the aforementioned Andy Carroll, I think that they will offer a credible title challenge next season. Despite their limp surrender last night Kenny Dalglish is still taking his beloved Liverpool in the right direction.