In one of the more tight title races in recent history, the English Premier League looks like it will come down to the wire.
After Manchester City dropped a few points earlier in the season, Liverpool’s 7-point lead is back to 1 point. Although they still control their destiny, they can’t afford another slip up. Meanwhile, Tottenham is falling behind, after being just 3 points back earlier this season.
While every game is important, here are five games that will shape how the season ends and who wins the title:
1: Liverpool vs. Tottenham
"They lost Coutinho and they never replaced him."— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 3, 2019
Jamie Carragher on whether Liverpool have a problem. Do you agree? pic.twitter.com/z7W6ayHoyP
Liverpool only has a handful of games left against top six teams and this game is one of the biggest threats to them dropping points. If Tottenham are going to stay in the hunt, they need to win a few crucial games to close the gap. The first of those games is their match against Liverpool. A win for Tottenham brings them 3 points closer to the title. Meanwhile, the match is at Anfield, giving the Reds an advantage in this matchup.
2: Liverpool vs. Chelsea
Liverpool also need to avoid losing to another of the big teams. While Chelsea haven’t been consistent this season, they remain one of the teams that has the quality of players who could overcome Liverpool. Fans may also remember the match between the two teams several years ago where Liverpool were in a position to win the title, but lost the match before losing top spot. Again, playing at Anfield might give Liverpool a sufficient edge to win, but anything less than a win could be disastrous for them.
3: Manchester City vs. Tottenham
This is the second match where Tottenham can stake their claim for the title. Should they win against Liverpool, a win against Manchester City would give them a glimmer of hope. Although they would still need other results to go their way, it would keep the door open for Tottenham to stay in the race.
However, the implications of this game and the Liverpool one are huge, depending on the results. A Liverpool win in the first game would keep the status quo going. A draw or a loss would put Manchester City in the driver’s seat.
On the other hand, Manchester City can’t afford to drop any points if they want to keep in touch with Liverpool. A draw or loss here would give Liverpool the opportunity to extend their lead. With only a few weeks of the season left after this game, it could be the final nail in the coffin for Manchester City, Liverpool, or Tottenham.
4: Manchester United vs. Manchester City
The Manchester derby looms large as Manchester City’s final test for the season. Manchester City obviously can’t afford to lose or draw this game at such a late stage, where they’ll have few opportunities to make it up. Liverpool recently drew with the Red Devils, which brought their lead to a single point. Now, Manchester United can inflict the same damage on Manchester City.
Beyond the impact on the top of the table this can have, it will also be interesting to see how Manchester United approaches this game. It could give them a top four finish, earning them a spot in the UEFA Champions League next season. However, Manchester United and Liverpool share one of the biggest rivalries in football (soccer). The last thing United fans will want is to hand Liverpool their first EPL title. Nor will they want to help City lift the trophy.
Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United haven’t lost a game in the Premier League. Should they continue that trend, this game will have a major role to play. If Liverpool is still on top when this game kicks off, it’s likely they’ll get to extend their lead. If Manchester City is in first by then, this game will be make or break for them. A loss or a draw will again support Liverpool’s claim.
5: Liverpool vs. Newcastle
While this game isn’t between two of the current top teams in the EPL, it should be fascinating nonetheless. It takes place in the penultimate week of the season, and sees former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez go up against his former club as manager of Newcastle. Although it’s likely Liverpool win this game, it could make the final week of the EPL even more exciting.
⚽ GOAL Newcastle!— Action Network Soccer (@ActionNetSoccer) February 26, 2019
An incredible strike from Fabian Schar puts Newcastle (+120) up 1-0 over Burnley.pic.twitter.com/BpTQmZbju8
Depending on the points situation, the result of this game could mean Liverpool win the title at home. If Liverpool can extend their current lead, a win against Newcastle could mean Man City can’t catch them. Alternatively, if Liverpool remain only a point or two ahead, the final game of the season will decide it all.