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History shows Liverpool's pursuers can bridge gap

18 Nov 2019

There have been four occasions when a team with an eight-point lead have been overtaken, with Man City responsible for two such comebacks

Liverpool took a big step towards winning their first Premier League title with a 3-1 victory over Manchester City, moving eight points clear at the top of the table and nine above the reigning champions.

Only two other teams have ever have been so far in front at such an early stage, with Manchester United leading by nine points in 1993/94 and Man City lying eight points ahead in 2017/18. Both sides went on to finish first.

But Liverpool's pursuers, and particularly Pep Guardiola's Man City, also have cause for optimism as they seek to battle back and lift the PL Trophy themselves.

There have been four occasions when a team with at least an eight-point lead have been overtaken, and the Citizens have been responsible for the last two of those comebacks.

One of the turnarounds took place last season in a similar scenario, as Guardiola's side chased down leaders Liverpool.

City lay 10 points behind the Reds at the end of December, with a match in hand, before beating Jurgen Klopp's men 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium in January and finishing with 14 wins in a row to retain their title by one point.

Watch Man City's 2011/12 finale

There were echoes of 2011/12, when Roberto Mancini's team trailed local rivals Man Utd by eight points on 8 April but edged in front over the final six rounds of fixtures to memorably triumph on goal difference thanks to Sergio Aguero's stoppage-time winner against Queens Park Rangers on the final day.

Arsenal had the benefit of three matches in hand when they found themselves 11 points adrift of Man Utd in March 1998, but they nonetheless showed remarkable form to take the crown, winning 10 successive matches.

And the greatest ever comeback came in 1995/96, when Man Utd trailed Newcastle United by 12 points in January, only to turn the tables and finish four points clear.

Liverpool may have stormed into an early lead this season but history has shown that such an advantage can be eliminated in the final weeks, let alone over the remaining 26 rounds of fixtures.

The head-to-head matches will be crucial. In each of the Premier League's four biggest comebacks, the chasing team won the second meeting with their title rivals in the run-in.

Second duel in biggest title-race comebacks
Season Date Result Final standings
1995/96 4 Mar NEW 0-1 MUN 1: MUN 82pts
2: NEW 78pts
1997/98 14 Mar MUN 0-1 ARS 1: ARS 78pts
2: MUN 77pts
2011/12 30 Apr MCI 1-0 MUN 1: MCI 89pts
2: MUN 89pts
2018/19 3 Jan MCI 2-1 LIV 1: MCI 98pts
2: LIV 97pts

Man City beat both Man Utd and Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium as they reined in their foes, and they will know the significance of the fact that they host Jurgen Klopp's Reds in April.

If third-placed Chelsea maintain their impressive recent form through to the season finale, then their trip to Anfield in the penultimate Matchweek of the season could be a defining moment.

Meanwhile Leicester City, who are flying high in second, will entertain the current leaders at King Power Stadium in their reverse fixture on Boxing Day.

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