Liverpool and Manchester City compared: Who is best placed to win the title?
Liverpool and Manchester City are separated by a point at the top of the Premier League table
Last Updated: 10/12/18 3:54pm
Chelsea blew the Premier League title race open on Saturday, with Liverpool now leading Manchester City by a point. So how do they compare? What do the stats tell us? And who is best placed to win it?
Pep Guardiola dismissed the notion that City and Liverpool are in a two-horse title race after his side's unbeaten start to the season ended with a 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge, but third-placed Tottenham are rated as 40-1 outsiders and the top two look a cut above the rest.
Who has the more potent attack?
City's defeat to Chelsea was the first time since their goalless draw with Liverpool in October - and only the second time all season - that they have failed to find the net in a Premier League game.
Guardiola's men spurned a series of first-half chances at Stamford Bridge but they remain by far the most prolific team in the Premier League. In 16 games so far, they have scored 45 goals, 11 more than Liverpool and 10 more than any other side. They have hit at least three goals in eight separate Premier League games.
A closer look at the stats underlines their superiority. Guardiola's side have attempted 300 shots on goal - 29 more than any other side and 67 more than Liverpool - and they are also creating the highest quality chances. According to Opta, they have created 43 big chances to Liverpool's 30.
City's front three of Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane have contributed a combined total of 22 goals, with David Silva (five), Riyad Mahrez (five), Bernardo Silva (four) and Ilkay Gundogan (three) also chipping in.
If Guardiola's men carry on scoring at the same rate, they will match last season's record-breaking tally of 106 Premier League goals exactly.
Liverpool's attacking trident of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are yet to hit the heights of last season, but they have still combined for 20 Premier League goals, with Salah hitting top form with his hat-trick against Bournemouth. The Egyptian is now level with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the top of the Premier League scoring charts on 10 goals.
Klopp will hope it is a sign of what's to come, but as it stands all the numbers point to City being the more potent attacking force.
What about the defence?
City may have the edge in attack but it's Liverpool who are leading the way defensively.
Klopp's side have been outstanding at the back this season, conceding just six goals in 16 games so far. They are yet to concede more than one goal in a single game, and Saturday's 4-0 win over Bournemouth was their 10th clean sheet of the campaign.
City have conceded nine goals - three more than Liverpool - and kept eight clean sheets. Like Liverpool, Guardiola's side usually provide stiff resistance at the back, but on Saturday Chelsea were able to exploit weaknesses. For the first goal, City were caught on the counter-attack. For the second, they were exposed from a set piece.
Interestingly, however, the underlying data suggests City are in fact the defensively stronger of the two sides. Guardiola's side have restricted their opponents to fewer shots (110 to 132) and fewer shots on target (38 to 42) than Liverpool and their expected goals against column reads 11.6 to Liverpool's 12.4.
Liverpool are still giving up statistically superior chances to City, in other words, but they are keeping them out thanks in part to goalkeeper Alisson. The Brazilian, a £67m signing from Roma in the summer, has the best save percentage rate in the division (85.7 per cent).
As long as he can keep that up, Liverpool will be confident of keeping their opponents at bay. The bad news for Klopp's side, however, is that the evidence suggests City are not as defensively vulnerable as Saturday's result may suggest.
Injuries and squad depth
Both sides have had to contend with injury problems this season.
For Liverpool, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to miss the entirety of the campaign having suffered knee ligament damage in April, and he has recently been joined in the treatment room by Joe Gomez, who is expected to miss six weeks of action with a fractured leg.
City, though, have been worse off. Kevin De Bruyne appeared to have overcome a knee injury when he returned to action in October, only to aggravate another issue which has kept him sidelined ever since. The Belgian's absence makes City's prolific start to the season even more impressive, and he is not the only player to have been sidelined.
Benjamin Mendy has been another significant loss. The French international has not featured since November having suffered a knee injury from which he is not expected to return until January or February.
Sergio Aguero's absence with a muscle problem against Chelsea proved costly as they struggled to convert chances at Stamford Bridge, and there was also the worrying sight of David Silva leaving the field with a hamstring problem.
Squad depth is likely to become crucial over the hectic festive period, so how do Liverpool and City's options compare?
Klopp bolstered his squad with the signings of Xherdan Shaqiri, Naby Keita and Fabinho in the summer and all three have contributed positively. Shaqiri has become a regular starter, easing the pressure on Klopp's front three and contributing three goals and two assists in the Premier League so far, while Keita and Fabinho are beginning to find their feet, too.
Their arrivals have helped Liverpool cope without Oxlade-Chamberlain and provided competition for Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum.
For City, Mahrez has impressed following his £60m arrival from Leicester, providing five goals and two assists, but Guardiola is still light on cover for Fernandinho in deep midfield and there are question marks over Gabriel Jesus's form. The Brazilian has struggled to provide adequate support for Aguero up front, scoring just one goal in 13 Premier League games.
Who has the tougher Christmas schedule?
Manchester City and Liverpool have seven and six fixtures respectively over the next 25 days, culminating in their mouth-watering showdown at the Etihad Stadium, live on Sky Sports, on January 3.
Man City's festive schedule
- Dec 12: Hoffenheim (h)
- Dec 15: Everton (h)
- Dec 18: Leicester (n)
- Dec 22: C Palace (h)
- Dec 26: Leicester (a)
- Dec 30: Southampton (a)
- Jan 3: Liverpool (h)
City's schedule is busier owing to their continued involvement in the Carabao Cup, but their fixture list looks kinder than Liverpool's. Guardiola can afford to rest key players against Hoffenheim on Wednesday knowing City have already booked their spot in the Champions League last 16, with seventh-placed Everton the highest-ranked of their next four Premier League opponents.
Liverpool's festive schedule
- Dec 11: Napoli (h)
- Dec 16: Man Utd (h)
- Dec 21: Wolves (a)
- Dec 26: Newcastle (h)
- Dec 29: Arsenal (h)
- Jan 3: Man City (a)
Liverpool, meanwhile, face a crucial Champions League clash with Napoli on Tuesday, with Manchester United and Arsenal among their next four Premier League opponents. Will they still be top by the time they head to the Etihad on January 3? It's a formidable challenge for Klopp's men.
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