Who would have thought that after just matchday 21 in the English Premier League, Liverpool would be in such a commanding lead? The Reds are leading 3rd placed Manchester City with a bloody 14 points with a rejuvenated and an overachieving Leicester side trailing the league leaders by 13 points.
Liverpool’s hegemony in the EPL this season has been emphatic, ruthless and devastating. Furthermore, albeit a game in hand due to Club World Cup duties in Qatar, the team from Merseyside have still managed to establish a great chasm between them and the chasing lot.
Last season’s Premier League winners, Manchester City, have struggled without the presence of some key cogs. The loss of Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane to long term injuries has been telling on City’s chances of completing the League treble.
In addition, Otamendi and Stones who have been deployed in Laporte’s stead have come up short. To illustrate, egregious blunders by the duo in the Norwich defeat at Carrow Road earlier in the season dealt Guardiola’s team a huge blow as their greatest rival Liverpool kept on firing on all Cylinders.
Unsurprisingly, Otamendi not playing with a full deck for club and country in recent years has been somewhat evident. Stones’ lack of consistency marred with injuries at such damning frequency has further exacerbated City’s defensive woes. It comes as no surprise that Pep’s men are far off Liverpool and now, their objectives at the start of the campaign must be revised. Why not the Champions League?
Admittedly, that would have been one of the most important goals before the start of the season and drab displays in the league which has put Liverpool in the driving seat might have ensured the focus now shifts significantly to winning the European title. In Pep Guardiola’s enviable 10-season managerial career, he has failed to win the League only twice. A Mourinho inspired Real Madrid into ending Barca’s dominance after the Catalan club had won La Liga three times on the trot within 2009-2011.
The Spaniard’s [Pep Guardiola] stint at Bayern in Germany yielded 3 League titles as well. However, his first season in England wasn’t so memorable. A season Pep failed to lift a single trophy, a rarity. But in subsequent seasons he won the league supremely, and in a devastating way, perhaps producing the best side ever in English football with last season’s domestic treble epitomizing City’s divinity.
Obviously, Pep is yet to lift the Champions League (CL) without winning the League title. So, it begs the question, how does the Spaniard inspire his side to the CL title whiles being so frail in the league?
Aymeric Laporte is back in training now and Leroy Sane would soon follow. The league chase looks like a dead-end. Certainly, “Elvis has left the building”.
Guardiola now has the chance to shift focus to the CL and could at least draw inspiration from the fact that in the last two seasons, Champions League winners weren’t League winners as well.