Liverpool strengthened their bid to win a first top-flight title since 1990 by overcoming reigning champions and rivals Manchester City on Sunday.
The 3-1 win at Anfield put a nine-point buffer between Jurgen Klopp’s Reds and Pep Guardiola’s City, who now sit fourth in the Premier League.
Swathes of fans believe the title race is a foregone conclusion after just 12 games, while others think the Citizens, Leicester City or Chelsea could stop the Liverpool juggernaut.
The Express Sport team are on hand to debate the big question – can anybody catch Liverpool and stop Klopp’s men winning the Premier League?
Jim Holden – Potentially
Liverpool’s players and manager Jurgen Klopp are right to talk with caution about their excellent start in the Premier League this season and the strong points advantage they hold over the rest. Nothing is decided after just 12 matches.
The magnificent run of results is superior to the actual form of the side so far in this campaign. They were fortunate to win away to Sheffield United and at home to Leicester City, and had another happy slice of good luck with the 50-50 decision by the referee not to award Manchester City an early penalty on Sunday at Anfield.
It would only take a couple of matches in succession where the opponents receive the rub of the green for Liverpool’s advantage to tumble away. The pressure of the 30-year title drought could also weigh heavy at some stage.
Manchester City are certainly capable of capitalising on any dip in Liverpool’s results. They are also a majestic football team, and they showed last season the strength of character and inner belief required over a marathon 38 games to become champions.
Of the others, it is hard to see Chelsea sustaining a long-term title challenge, although if their transfer ban is lifted in January and they buy two high-class players they could remain surprise contenders. Leicester are more likely to remain a threat; an impressive side who have the benefit of no distractions from European competition.
But we are still judging on the evidence of only 12 rounds of matches. The story has only just begun.
Can Liverpool be caught in Premier League title race after win over Man City? – Big Debate
Liverpool’s win over Man City extended their advantage in the Premier League title race
Gideon Brooks – No
With 26 games still to come there is no doubt whatsoever Liverpool can be reeled in between now and May – the maths is pretty clear.
There are 78 points up for grabs and if they lose three games they drop nine points.
Yet the other part of that equation is that Leicester City, Chelsea or Manchester City stay unbeaten from now until May. And on the evidence so far that seems improbable.
Injuries could derail the procession particularly if Virgil van Dijk, either of their two full backs or two out of three in their midfield or front lines go down at the same time.
But that, too, would appear unlikely given their record on fitness. Of course there will swings to come – Liverpool visit the King Power on Boxing Day and the Etihad in early April – but on balance not enough to stop them landing a first title in 30 years.
Pep Guardiola’s Man City trail Liverpool by nine points in the Premier League title race
Charlie Malam – Yes
Suggesting it’s over already would be to ignore the fact Manchester City won all of their last 14 games while under huge pressure last season, claimed an unprecedented domestic treble and the season before that collected 100 points. They are one of the strongest and most talented squads football has ever seen. Can they claw back a nine-point gap in 28 games? Absolutely.
Liverpool are electric, losing only one of their last 51 in the league, but some misfortune with major injuries could easily change that. It must be said they have coped admirably without Alisson and Joel Matip this term, with the latter’s form over the past 12 months making him someone underrated outside of Anfield.
But there’s no denying that the back-up options to their full-backs, front three and Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho are not nearly on the same level. All seven are bonafide world-class players and would be sorely missed if they were sidelined for months on end, particularly if it were several of them at the same time.
Liverpool just don’t enjoy the same level of depth as City, who, even with injuries at Anfield, still had David Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, Joao Cancelo and Gabriel Jesus all on the bench.
Divock Origi is Liverpool’s only senior back-up striker and left-sided winger, with the drop off in efficiency of their options after him – such as shoehorning Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out wide – evidence of the contrast between the two squads. So is the fact James Milner is probably their best stand-in for Andy Robertson, the man as good as any left-back in the world.
And don’t forget that Liverpool have the Club World Cup to contend with next month. They’re also as likely as anyone to reach the latter stages of the Champions League again too. Both will increase the potential for fatigue, as well as the Reds coped with European and domestic commitments in the final few months of last season.
Of course, City’s current defence is a big issue for Pep Guardiola, and the likes of Chelsea and Leicester (who look good for a top-four finish but won’t be a title challenger in my opinion) will put them to the test in coming weeks. It looks like Aymeric Laporte’s sustained absence could swing the 3ft 5in silver trophy towards Merseyside, but we’re not that far from the January window and no-one would be surprised to see them again spend their millions. Laporte and Van Dijk, after all, were both winter window additions.
Is it finally their year? Liverpool will suffer blips along the way, as they did last term with that run of four draws in six games from January to March (yes, City really have raised the bar that high now that several draws are considered a blip), and with City’s offensive firepower and a genius like Guardiola at the helm, to suggest it’s over already would just be naive. But Liverpool couldn’t have imagined the odds would be so heavily in their favour already.
Leicester might rival Liverpool and Man City in the Premier League title race
James Benson – No
If any team has what it takes to chase down Jurgen Klopp’s table-topping Liverpool, you’d have to say it’s Manchester City.
The thing is, Pep Guardiola’s side just don’t look as rock solid this season as they have in the past two.
City’s defensive injury crisis has harmed them and goalkeeper-cum-quarterback Ederson being out for a sustained period would make matters worse for the reigning champions, no matter how good they are going forward.
Leicester City – as impressive as they are under Brendan Rodgers – are a Jamie Vardy injury away from their top-four hopes being left in tatters.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea still need to do it against another big team this season before being talked of as potential rivals for Liverpool, let alone challenging them.
Liverpool will face Premier League title race rivals Man City again in April
Jack Otway – No
It’s over. Manchester City are good but Liverpool are just better this season.
Pep Guardiola has paid the price for failing to sign a centre-back. They look short in defence and they were exposed against Liverpool.
As for Jurgen Klopp’s side, the only thing that may hurt their hopes of title glory is themselves.
Liverpool have bottled it in the past but they look far better than any Reds side of the last 20 years.
They’ve already won the Champions League, too. So they’ve got experience of winning silverware coupled with the hunger to scoop more prizes. That will set them in good stead.
Adam Powers – Potentially
It would take some sort of Greek tragedy for Liverpool not to win it from here – but the next month will be crucial.
And I don’t think that’s because of any lingering psychological damage Manchester City will have suffered from the loss, because they’ll almost feel refreshed and emboldened again after the international break when they come up against other sides; they still know they’re a top team and can look at Anfield as a retrospective form of altitude training.
Liverpool, meanwhile, will return from the international break to play 13 games in 41 days – and that’s not accounting for a probable Club World Cup final and rescheduled league trip to West Ham.
Such is the strength and incredible mentality of Jurgen Klopp’s side, I expect them to get through it relatively unscathed, but if injuries crop up in that packed fixture list then they could be in trouble.
Chelsea might challenge Liverpool and Man City in the Premier League title race
Uche Amako – No
Liverpool have that swagger and never-say-die attitude within them that suggests the Premier League title will be heading to Anfield.
It feels like this is finally their time and they deserve to be rewarded for the consistency and quality they have shown over the past two years.
The only thing that could potentially knock them back would be injuries but they have been remarkably fortunate to not have suffered a major injury to one of their core players in the last 18 months.
Losing Aymeric Laporte was the turning point in the season but Manchester City’s failure to sign a centre-back in the summer given Pep Guardiola doubts about John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi was equally as costly.
But perhaps it is finally their time to win the Champions League, which is the only thing missing from Guardiola’s CV at City.
Liverpool last enjoyed top-flight title glory when they won the First Division in 1990
Matthew Atherton – Yes
I think other teams can still catch Liverpool to snatch the Premier League title away from Anfield once again.
We haven’t seen Liverpool at their best this season. They’ve been incredibly fortunate so far, with late goals against Leicester City and Aston Villa, a goalkeeping howler in a 1-0 win at Sheffield United, and numerous refereeing mistakes against Manchester City.
Some may say that’s the mark of champions. But for me, that saying is designated for one or two matches per season – not a third of all matches.
Make no mistake, City will come back. They’ve only ever had one title-winning season when they didn’t have to claw back a points deficit, and they’re at their very best when the pressure is off. There’s no pressure on them now. It’s Liverpool’s title to lose… and they have a history of bottling it.
Liverpool were at one stage last season seven points clear of Man City in the Premier League
Konstantinos Lianos – Yes
The Premier League title race is not over yet – even though Liverpool hold a significant lead at the top of the table – we still have a long season ahead of us.
The Reds have given up a considerable advantage in the past and that could happen again as all it will take is Manchester City being consistent and Jurgen Klopp’s men losing at least two matches before the return fixture at the Etihad next year.
Liverpool showed incredible heart and ability when they narrowly avoided defeat against the likes of Aston Villa, Manchester United and Leicester City but they also proved they might not be unbeatable.
City showcased that they remain serious contenders for the title with the way they played on Sunday without key players like David Silva, Ederson, Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane. Therefore, we can still expect them to keep breathing down the Reds’ necks throughout the season.
To me, the Premier League doesn’t get in full swing until spring as that is when things become clearer at the top and bottom of the table.
Liverpool now have better chances of winning the league but no one can count City out.
Even though Chelsea have been immensely impressive throughout the season their lack of experience and the fact they are a very fresh side won’t allow them to make a title bid. But maybe next season.