Liverpool’s new positive confirms Pep Guardiola’s title concern
Jurgen Klopp’s side were tasked with toppling last-placed Burnley at Turf Moor in a game where a number of vital Reds players were missing from the starting XI.
Liverpool avoided a potential banana slip at Burnley on Sunday afternoon with a Fabinho goal five minutes before half-time to give the Reds the three points.
The win was made all the more impressive when you consider how many players Liverpool fielded without against the Clarets.
Given the return of the duo from the Africa Cup of Nations, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were immediately placed back in the starting XI.
As a result, Diogo Jota was forced to take his place on the bench despite being the heroes as the aforementioned duo were out in Cameroon and unavailable for his club.
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Thiago Alcantara has enjoyed his best season since joining the club in the summer of 2020 but was also dropped from the starting XI against Sean Dyche’s side.
Ibrahima Konate has proven he is more than capable of mixing it up with the big boys and would no doubt have particularly enjoyed the kind of physical battle Burnley throw at their opponents, but he joined Jota and Thiago in the away dugout .
Players like Joe Gomez, Divock Origi, Curtis Jones and Takumi Minamino didn’t even make it to the matchday squad.
In their place were Salah, Jordan Henderson and Joel Matip respectively – all three equally efficient and technically gifted, which is the exact reason why Manchester City cannot yet consider this title race.
Liverpool’s victory at Turf Moor puts them in second place nine points behind top players Pep Guardiola who have played one game more.
The current game as well as the fact that the teams will meet at the Etihad in early April offer Klopp’s side the chance to close the gap to just three points.
Although it’s hard to imagine City dropping too many points by the end of the season, Guardiola himself has admitted that ‘anything can happen’.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s trip to Carrow Road, the City manager said: “We can also win the Premier League if we win against Norwich, like Liverpool or Chelsea or Tottenham – it’s the same number of points.
“We have 14 games left, a lot of points to go and we need to earn a lot of points if we want to be there to win the title.”
Guardiola went on to point out that Liverpool’s strength is exactly why they cannot yet dream of a fourth league title in five seasons.
“After the run we’ve had in the last 14 games, and we’re potentially only six points clear, it’s because the opponent is so good too,” he added.
“Under normal circumstances an opponent would be 10 or 12 points (behind) with the number of games we have won.”
Klopp recently claimed he doesn’t believe his side can catch City, but the comments are surely just mind games to relieve his troops as the season heats up.