This is quite remarkable, considering just how bad City were against Sunderland. Back then I looked at not just that result – which could easily have been a defeat – but their last 10, and saw clear signs of the squad starting to tire and lose hope.
Well, that all changed when fans and players alike watched the conclusion of the match at Anfield just before stepping out at Selhurst Park.
It was of course visible to all just what kind of effect it had on City to see that, suddenly, the league was back in their hands.
A side who struggled to convince anyone of anything just a week or so beforehand found themselves galvanised by the return of Yaya Toure and the return of real hope.
Even with my ties to Liverpool I’m not entirely comfortable with anyone alleging that the defeat to Chelsea was tainted because of how defensively Jose Mourinho set out the side.
If you didn’t know any better, you’d think most of the world truly believed that staggering blindly into Liverpool’s reputable quick attacks and falling a few goals behind would have been the ‘honourable thing’ for Chelsea to do, in the name of football!
This sport does not work like that. You do not win games by being the most attacking side. Results aren’t decided by judges. They’re decided by goals.
It’s great to see Liverpool attack as fluidly as they have this season but it was clear they were losing a bit of their confidence when coming up against Chelsea’s brick wall.
Yes, the opening goal came because of a slip, but the home side were almost caught out on the counter more than once and the second goal in the closing moments could easily have been the only goal rather than the clincher.
At 0-0 or 1-0, Liverpool were going to press and Chelsea were going to pounce on the break.
I think all of us now want this three-horse race to stay very much up for grabs to the end. It may not be very healthy for those of us with an allegiance to one of the three sides, but this has been an exciting season and the run-in so far has been nothing short of nail-biting. I only hope it reaches a similar crescendo in May.
As for if City will see it out and win every game – I don’t see why not. Even Everton away is a lot less daunting now than it was when the Toffees had the beating of Arsenal in the race for fourth, before a couple of losses derailed them.
I just cannot help but think back to the Sunderland game, though, and wonder if that enthusiasm at Crystal Palace will last. After all, they always say points in the bank are better than games in hand – and after the thrill of slipping back into the driver’s seat comes the task of steering the vehicle over the finish line.
Three games in a week is a tough ask for anyone in this situation, though I feel Toure and Aguero’s return will prove key to City seeing this out.
Let’s all keep our fingers crossed, either way, that all three sides can keep us guessing until May 11.
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