Last season saw Liverpool become perhaps the hardest-luck second-place team in soccer history, millimeters and a referee’s watch stopping a club deserving of a title.
While the points might not be there for the runners-up this go-round, we’ve got a case of turnabout being fair play for the sky blue side of Manchester.
Pep Guardiola‘s Man City is on pace for 81 points, a total worthy of a title winner as recently as Leicester City’s 2015/16 miracle run.
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City served a reminder of its potency on Sunday when it dialed up six goals to down Aston Villa with ease and without Raheem Sterling. It’s the 19th time in 22 matches that City has scored multiple goals, putting them on pace to break their own Premier League record for goals in a season.
City scored 106 times in their remarkable 2017/18 season, and Sunday’s show puts them on track for 107. And Pep Guardiola’s men still face the Premier League’s four worst defenses, three of those fixtures coming at the Etihad Stadium.
Perhaps because City and Liverpool have been so wonderful the past two seasons, we’re overlooking both.
The numbers people say so.
FiveThirtyEight says City remains the second-best team in the world — yes, the world — despite its relative table problems. The two-time reigning PL champs are closer to passing Liverpool than they are to dipping beind third place Bayern Munich (who, it must be noted, is not leading its league).
While the Reds are unbeaten and the reigning Champions League winners, City sits second despite long absences for arguably their most important tactical player of two seasons ago (Leroy Sane) and last season (Aymeric Laporte).
They’ve also been unlucky on the whole this season, according to the expected goals table, and have scored 12 more goals than anyone else in the league (No. 2 Liverpool has played one less match).
In case you’re wondering, the PL has five teams in the model’s Top 20. Chelsea (9th), Manchester United (12th), Tottenham Hotspur (14th), and Leicester City (16th) are bossing the numbers game in Europe. Norwich City is the lowest, at 125th, joining Newcastle (104th) and Aston Villa (109th) as the only PL teams outside the Top 100.
Liverpool is carving its name in history this season, and we’ll doubtlessly spend the better part of the next four months singing their deserved praises. Quietly, however, City may be writing almost as impressive a tale and — perhaps, presuming a healthy-enough Laporte — one that ends on May 30 in Turkey.Follow @NicholasMendola