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Liverpool, Arsenal or Man City? Three-way Premier League title race analysed

One point divides Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City in the Premier League table; Mikel Arteta's side have the toughest league run-in; Gunners last won league title 20 years ago; Premier League run-in and club stats analysed


Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City are divided by a single point in the Premier League table ahead of another crucial weekend - but which team is most likely to take the crown come May?

Arsenal have reclaimed the Premier League summit after a 3-0 win at Brighton on Saturday after Manchester City beat Crystal Palace to keep pace with the Gunners - but Liverpool dropped two points following a 2-2 draw at Manchester United.

The title race shows signs of going right to the wire on the final day of the season on Sunday May 19.

Paul Merson described the run-in as "the best Premier League title run-in ever", while the stats reveal it is also the tightest ever: never before has one point or fewer divided first and third after 31 games.

So, how do the teams' fortunes fare with eight games to go?


Reasons to be confident

Table-topping Arsenal still appear to be regarded as the unlikeliest of the three contenders, but the best defence usually wins titles and the Gunners have that this season. Their expected goals against total is unrivalled, reflecting their ability to suppress chances.

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Arsenal could not find a level of cutting edge to match their defensive prowess in the early months of the season but that appears to be changing. They have rattled in 38 goals in their last 11 league games. The floodgates have opened.

Bukayo Saka has spearheaded the Gunners' attack, while improvement can also be seen in Martin Odegaard, Leandro Trossard and Kai Havertz.

Declan Rice's impact has been immense in midfield and the group appear hungrier and mentally stronger than last season.

Reasons to be cautious

Last season's capitulation hangs over them. Having surrendered such a healthy lead over Man City, when it felt like they might never get a better chance, they now have a lot to prove in terms of staying power. These players do not have the same level of trophy-winning experience as their rivals.

For all Arsenal's recent improvement offensively, there remain question marks in the No 9 position too. Gabriel Jesus gives them many things, but he is not a prolific scorer. Could the lack of that out-and-out striker with a killer touch still cost them?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Brighton and Arsenal.


Reasons to be confident

Liverpool's title tilt has been propelled by their attacking firepower, boosted by Mohamed Salah returning to the starting line-up and scoring in the 2-1 win over Brighton earlier this month after missing a large chunk of league action this year due to injury and representing Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations.

There is encouragement at the other end of the pitch too, where Virgil van Dijk has returned to something approaching his best level, Caoimhin Kelleher continues to prove an able deputy to the injured Alisson and even teenagers Bobby Clark, Jayden Danns and James McConnell are contributing impressively.

Could the announcement of Jurgen Klopp's departure at the end of the season further boost their chances? Certainly, the emotion has enhanced the atmosphere at Anfield.

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Reasons to be cautious

Klopp has worked wonders with Liverpool's midfield, restructuring it almost from scratch after the departures of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, James Milner and Naby Keita last summer. But they still lack a No 6 to rival Rodri or Declan Rice.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool.

A raft of key, injured players are set to return, including Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson and Diogo Jota, but, despite Van Dijk's fine form, there remain doubts in defence, with Joel Matip ruled out for the remainder of the season.

They have conceded only 30 goals, the second-fewest after Arsenal, but is the current rate sustainable? The underlying numbers show they give their opponents far better chances than City and Arsenal, with 36.52 expected goals against (xGa) given up so far, compared to Arsenal's 21.62 and City's 30.31.

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Reasons to be confident

How long have you got? Even after drawing at Anfield and against Arsenal, Manchester City have the feel of a side clicking into gear - they are unbeaten since December 6.

Guardiola's players know exactly what it takes to get over the line as they chase an unprecedented fourth consecutive title triumph. They have recovered from far worse situations than the one they found themselves in earlier this season.

Their strength in depth is unrivalled, allowing them to plough on even without players of the calibre of Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland earlier in the season. Guardiola has described both Phil Foden and Rodri as their "players of the season".

Now that De Bruyne and Haaland are back and the injury list is relatively clear, they will remain confident of doing what they need to do to clinch the record title.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City.

Reasons to be cautious

The fact no side has won four league titles in a row is the main one. Amid stiff competition from Liverpool and Arsenal, and still juggling three competitions, can they maintain the level required for a fourth consecutive season? There is a reason it has never been done before.

The other glimmer of hope for their rivals is they look more defensively vulnerable than in previous campaigns. Having shipped 31 goals in 31 games, they are conceding close to their highest rate under Guardiola, almost on a par with the 2016/17 campaign, when they finished third.

What do the stats say?

Sky Sports' data editor Adam Smith:

The top three have been tussling since Christmas after Spurs and Aston Villa dropped out of the top three.

If things go to the wire with points, Arsenal currently lead the battle for goal difference by some distance with +51, followed by Liverpool (+42) and Manchester City (+40).

In terms of form, Liverpool have been the most consistent - never dropping points in more than two consecutive Premier League games.

City drew three in a row from mid-November before losing 1-0 at Aston Villa. However, Guardiola's side are now unbeaten since December 6 as they look to see out the campaign in customary, dominant form.

Arsenal suffered a dip over the festive period, losing three in five games, but have bounced back to almost perfect levels with 10 wins and one draw from their last 11 games - with an aggregate scoreline of 38-4.

The graphic below shows each team's upcoming Premier League fixtures, but which side has the easiest schedule?

The colours represent the difficulty of each opponent, based on current league position.

Arsenal's average opponent ranks 8.9 in the table, which is slightly tougher than Liverpool's (9.9) - while Manchester City (11.4) have a notably easier run-in on paper.

So, what's the verdict? Well, Arsenal have the toughest league schedule on paper - but could their momentum see them over the line?

Still unsure which team to back as Premier League champions when the curtain closes on May 19? You can use the interactive chart below to see how the rivals rank across all key metrics this season to help you decide...

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