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Premier League title race: excitement builds at the top of the table

At the midway stage of the season the lead is changing hands on a regular basis 

It’s certainly been a topsy-turvy first half of the 2020-2021 Premier League season.

There’s been injuries problems, Covid-19 outbreaks, fixture pile-ups and many wild results - Liverpool losing 7-2 at Aston Villa but also winning 7-0 at Crystal Palace are two prime examples.

The atmosphere in stadiums has also contributed. Fans returned to some grounds for a brief time, but coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns again saw matches played behind closed doors. 

English football’s top flight is renowned for its unpredictability and excitement and so far this season the race for the title has been the major talking point. 

Just this past week Manchester United were in pole position before Leicester City then Manchester City took over at the top. 

Man Utd’s 2-1 win at Fulham on Wednesday has seen them return to the summit, but Man City, who beat Villa 2-0, are currently in second place, two points behind their rivals with a game in hand. 

As well United, City and Leicester, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Southampton, Everton and Arsenal have also been top of the league in a season Sky Sports described as “the most open in history”. 

‘It will go right to the wire’ 

Defending champions Liverpool failed to close the gap on Thursday night when they were beaten 1-0 at home by Burnley. It was the Reds’ first league defeat at Anfield in 69 games and the fourth league match in a row where they have failed to score. They remain fourth in the table six points behind leaders Man Utd. 

At the start of the month Jurgen Klopp had predicted the title race would be too close to call, The Guardian reports. 

“This season is a tough one for the supporters,” said the Liverpool boss. “If you are a neutral you will love it. Our season so far is good but I’m not surprised it is this close. This year is tough. 

“I am pretty sure it will go right to the wire. It is tough for all of us [challenging teams], which is the reason why it’s so close.”

Premier League top six on 22 January 2021

The current top six

PremierLeague.com

Shearer: City have the momentum

The top six are still so tightly bunched that none can be discounted, said FourFourTwo’s Mark White. “This is well and truly Premier League open season,” he adds.

BBC Match of the Day 2 pundit Alan Shearer believes “four or five teams” could win the title. The former England striker said: “It is wide open - I can’t remember it ever being as compact, with so few points separating the top teams at this stage, as it is this year.”

Liverpool were many people’s favourites to retain their crown this season, but they are on a poor run of form and struggling in front of goal. 

Shearer feels that the momentum is now with Man City, who have won five league games in a row, and eight in all competitions. 

“Momentum counts for a lot when you are in a title race,” said Shearer. “Pep Guardiola’s side have clearly tightened up at the back and have improved defensively - John Stones and Ruben Dias have been superb - but they have begun to click again in front of goal too. 

“City are playing some very good football and at the moment they look hard to stop, but they are not the only team who will look at the top of the table and fancy their chances. I am looking forward to seeing how it all pans out.”

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