Opinion

Liverpool’s victory over Leicester shows why they're now clear favourites for the title

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Until last weekend, there was some disagreement among bookies in England as to whether Manchester City or Liverpool were favourites to win the title this season, a mixed reaction influenced by injuries on Merseyside and perhaps the new contract signed by City boss Pep Guardiola.

The situation is clearer now after the defending champions swatted aside Leicester 3-0 to show their challengers - Tottenham, Chelsea, Leicester and the blue half of Manchester - that taking the trophy from Merseyside will be far from easy. 

It was a fine return to domestic action for Jurgen Klopp after an unkind international break.

The coach had already lost defender Virgil Van Dijk, the centre-back has been a colossus since moving to Anfield and being ruled out for the full season, or close to it, -a huge blow.

It meant that losing the Dutchman’s defensive partner Joe Gomez to another serious injury was even more painful.

Throw in the fact that Trent Alexander-Arnold also missed out then three-quarters of a much-vaunted defence were absent as was captain Jordan Henderson. 

To then come up against a fine counter-attacking team like Leicester who had won all four away games so far this season was a serious test for the champions. Had the Foxes won then they would have gone top.

They didn’t come close to doing so and it was a comfortable win for the hosts.

This test was passed with impressive ease in a display to remind every team with designs on the title that they are going to have to be at their best to take the trophy away from Anfield. 

Manchester City are still second-favourites for the title despite losing 2-0 to Tottenham Hotspur, a defeat adding to an uncertain start, even if the.

Despite the good news that Pep Guardiola has signed a new contract, City have scored just five goals in the last six games, not exactly the stat that you would expect from such a side.

“There are a lot of teams in front of us [in the table] and if we don’t start winning, it [the title] will not be possible and we know it," Guardiola lamented. 

It won’t be easy. This season is unlike any other, starting a month later with all the European commitments and international friendlies, the games are coming thick and fast.

There are going to be injuries, fatigue and all the rest.  City are not looking too dynamic as it is and it remains to be seen if they can find some rhythm, cohesion and fluency in what is going to be a grind of a season. 

Leicester may have won the title in 2016 but losing at Liverpool, even though the Foxes have injury issues of their own, in such a fashion suggests that this team don't have what it takes to wrest the trophy out of Klopp’s grip.

Chelsea won the league in 2017 but this is a very different team with a very different coach.

Frank Lampard is still in the early stages of his coaching journey but his first major steps in the transfer market, especially the capture of exciting Hakim Ziyech, are encouraging and just challenging for the title will be a step in the right direction.

Sunday’s clash with Tottenham is a big one for many reasons.

Spurs are now top after that win over City and above Liverpool on goal difference. With Son Heung-min and Harry Kane in excellent form and linking up almost perfectly together, these are exciting times.

It’s early days but Tottenham have momentum and a growing belief.

There are a few tough fixtures coming up before Christmas --after Chelsea comes Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Leicester, and if Spurs are still going well after that lot, then a title challenge really will be on. 

But after this past weekend, it is even harder to look past Liverpool.

It was always going to be impossible to recreate last season’s phenomenal points return but, as well as the talent,  there is a winning mentality at the club.

If there was any doubt that the Reds were the favourites to win a second successive crown, there isn’t any more.

The others need to step up. 

Source SBS The World Game