The makeup of the Premier League title race changed drastically at the weekend. Manchester City’s as-expected win over Luton Town preceded shocking home defeats from both Liverpool and Arsenal. The Reds fell to Crystal Palace by a single goal. Then, on Sunday, Unai Emery exacted revenge on Arsenal by leading Aston Villa to a 2-0 win at the Emirates. By the end of the weekend, Manchester City returned to a familiar spot at the top of the Premier League table, two points ahead of both Arsenal and Liverpool.

Fans of the two latter clubs already started waving the white flag of surrender despite each team having six games remaining on the schedule. By their accounts, the title race is over. Manchester City is going to win a fourth Premier League crown on the trot.

Mathematically speaking, those fans are wrong, as the table can drastically shift as the end of the season nears. Yes, Manchester City took a massive step toward becoming the first team to win the Premier League in four seasons in a row. Still, that is far from a guarantee.

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“The Premier League title race is far from over.” -Kyle Fansler

The volatility of the Premier League, particularly in the 2023/24 season, provided fireworks in the most recent matchday. Each of the three clubs at the top of the table entered their game as heavy favorites. Arsenal had the most challenging matchup, sure. Even the 2-0 defeat against Emery’s Villa was among the most shocking results of the season. Likewise, Liverpool lost a league game at home for the first time since Leeds beat Liverpool in October 2022. Those just happened to be on the same day.

Two points is a manageable sum, and Manchester City’s goal differential does not provide it an advantage in the event of ties. Despite this weekend’s results, Arsenal still possesses the best goal differential in the league. If Manchester City draws one game and Arsenal wins out, the two clubs would be level on points. Goal differential would come into play.

Yet, that now requires Manchester City to drop points to bring Arsenal or Liverpool back to level on points. A team like City will always be favored in a matchup. Yet, the schedule for the club is not as straightforward as most are making out. Away games against Brighton and Fulham should be a simple three points. However, with the ongoing commitments in the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, there is more likelihood of a slip-up from the reigning champions. For example, a loss earlier in the season at Wolverhampton Wanderers and a home draw against Crystal Palace showed that City is, at times, vulnerable. Pep Guardiola will have to make key decisions regarding squad rotation to keep the possibility of a second successive treble alive.

There is also the lingering matchup against Tottenham Hotspur. If any team has had success against Manchester City, it is Spurs. Despite managerial rotation in recent years, City has a record of two draws and five losses in the last nine league games against Spurs. That includes a breathless 3-3 draw at the Etihad earlier in the season. Granted, Arsenal and Liverpool must also play Tottenham. Still, the north London club has been a thorn in City’s side over recent years. Based on recent struggles against Spurs, the Premier League title race is far from over for Manchester City.

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“You can’t predict the title race.” – Christopher Harris

If the Championship title race has taught us anything this season, you can never predict what will happen. Leicester was running away with it but slipped in several games with surprise defeats. Now, the title race is a revolving door of clubs at the top of the league with Leicester, Ipswich, and Leeds United all recently taking turns at being top of the table. Meanwhile, Southampton has the opportunity to close the gap if it can get two wins from the two games in hand the Saints have.

This season, we’ve seen Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City go through dips in form. While Manchester City has the experience of going on seemingly indestructible runs at the end of Premier League seasons, the factor that could make or break their season is the UEFA Champions League. Arsenal will deal with the same issue this week, but do both teams have enough strength and determination to succeed in both competitions? And if either one does advance to the final, how will that impact their Premier League title race?

As we saw from this past Sunday’s results, you can’t underestimate any opponents in the Premier League. Every league game for Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester City will feel like a cup final. Arsenal and Liverpool slipped up on Sunday, and Manchester City will likely slip up too.

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The title race in the Premier League will play out over the final six games of the season. Do you see Arsenal or Liverpool closing the gap, or are Pep Guardiola and Manchester City secured as champions of the English top flight for the fourth year in a row?

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Photos: Imago