Who Will Be the King of Premier League?

12 April 2022

There’s a reason why the Premier League is the most enticing competition when it comes to football.  There’s never a sure winner, and Leicester may be the biggest example in modern history to accommodate this idea. If we go back a couple of decades, or more, there is a plethora of examples of underdogs, great investments gone wrong, and more Shakespearian disasters and victories that make the Premier League an absolute thriller.

When Watford can beat Chelsea, maybe there’s some use to have information, like live football predictions by Overlyzer, to discern exactly what’s happening throughout the game, and how a smaller team can beat a big shark by dismantling their game.

In this season, particularly, there isn’t a big argument: the title is either for Manchester City or Liverpool. This seems to be the dual paradigm of the last years, and rightfully so, since both Guardiola and Klopp are in their respective clubs for a lot of time and were able to shape the team to their preference and style of play.

Along with Chelsea, Liverpool and City are undoubtedly the teams playing the best football this year, and they seem prone to English and European glory.

With Liverpool falling a little behind Manchester City, the question still remains: Who will be the Premier League’s King?

Liverpool

Klopp is an enthusiast, no doubt about it, more so than Guardiola. What people often don’t recognize is that he is also very rational when it comes to squad composure and tactics. Jota and Diaz being the latest examples of successful hires, it seems Liverpool doesn’t fail when it comes to market stints.

The team develops pretty well and the defense is always high on the terrain and inclusive on the attacking maneuvers. Virgil is a beast, Becker is a proper libero, and the midfield is able both to close the routes to their goal.

Without refuting this, and most teams would agree with the statement that Liverpool is a big offensive menace – Diaz, Jota, Firmino, Mané, Salah, Minamino – to their own detriment, it is also true that the offensive prowess often comes with defensive imbalances, that some teams can use to their profit. A good example is how Benfica behaved against Liverpool, and got to score: how the smartest clubs use the counter-attack effectively.

Manchester City

City went up a notch after Guardiola arrived. And this is no understatement, neither to the club nor to Guardiola’s capability. Similarly, to Klopp (although probably Klopp changed Liverpool even more) Guardiola managed to change the whole way City behaves on the field, and his compromise from pure tiki-taka to a nonetheless possession-based, but more assertive tactic, is a fair modulation to the Premier League more physical and high-tempo football.

Guardiola’s defense runs on a tight schedule, rarely missing to successfully implement the offside trap, and have a total-football approach to every phase of the game. It is almost an anecdote by now that City bought their success through hefty purchase fees, but that’s only half the truth: Barcelona sprayed money on their squad and still managed to almost go bankrupt.

Guardiola’s choices are sensible and adapted to his tactical idea, and the fact he is asking for a 9 is one more reason that he’s not throwing money away: playing with a false 9 has been working, but one is left to wonder if a Vlahovic was in the front of that attack, Haaland or Kane, for that matter, how many more goals would they score, and how much more of a equilibrium they would have.

So, as things stand, the lack of a pure 9 is City’s main weakness, and one that can prove capable of tilting the balance in a less inspired day.

At the end of the day

There’s a logic for both City and Liverpool’s fans to dream of the title but, despite their strengths and weakness, it might just be decided by a small team wishing too hard to stay on the Premier League. Football is, in the end of the day, a game that the mighty win, and where money sure talks, but doesn’t swear. A surprise might hit City or Liverpool: if it hits City, then Liverpool has a chance. If it hits Liverpool, there’s no chance at all. Only time will tell.

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