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Talking Points on the title battle between Manchester City and Liverpool

Talking Points on the title battle between Manchester City and Liverpool
© Reuters
Manchester City face Chelsea on Saturday, when Liverpool play Bournemouth.

Manchester City lead Liverpool by two points in the Premier League, with both sides still unbeaten. Here Press Association Sport looks at what appears to be becoming a two-team title race.

Advent advantage

Manchester City have drawn just two of their 15 games, winning the other 13; Liverpool have 12 wins and three draws. City's goal difference of +38 is the best in the English top-flight for the opening 15 games in 126 years. Tottenham are the next best, six points worse off than Liverpool. Chelsea have lost two of their last three Premier League games to sit 10 points adrift of City. Arsenal trail the Blues on goal difference, while Everton, Bournemouth and Manchester United all have eight fewer points than the Gunners, with 23 points.

Stars on top

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City have been in an enviable position before in the Premier League in December
Pep Guardiola's Manchester City have been in an enviable position before in the Premier League in December (Martin Rickett/PA)

City have been in this position before, in winning the title last season. After 15 games last season, City led by eight points from Manchester United. That had extended to a 14-point lead by New Year's Day, courtesy of an 18-match winning run. Liverpool were fourth, 18 points adrift. The Reds will be hoping to keep their unbeaten run going this season and see how City cope with the pressure of a rival ready to pounce on any slip-up.

Festive fixtures

The most challenging fixture for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool this month appears to be against Jose Mourinho's Manchester United
The most challenging fixture for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool this month appears to be against Jose Mourinho's Manchester United (Martin Rickett/PA)

Liverpool will hope to keep the pressure on City prior to their January 3 clash at the Etihad Stadium. Chelsea host City on Saturday seeking to end the holders' undefeated start and respond from their first competitive losses of the season – City also beat Chelsea in the Community Shield. City, whose last Premier League defeat came in April's Manchester derby, thereafter face Everton (H), Crystal Palace (H), Leicester (A) and Southampton (A). Liverpool play at Bournemouth on Saturday, followed by games with Manchester United (H), Wolves (A), Newcastle (H) and Arsenal (H) before the end of 2018.

Key players returning

Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero are due back from injury soon for Manchester City
Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero are due back from injury soon for Manchester City (Steven Paston/PA)

Sergio Aguero has missed the last two games and will be expected to return for City against Chelsea, while Kevin De Bruyne is nearing a return from a knee injury. The star duo will supplement City's already impressive squad, which means Pep Guardiola can make seamless switches to his starting XI. Jurgen Klopp's first-choice line-up is more obvious, but he still has the quality to make changes and earn victories.

Winter window

Both Guardiola and Klopp are predicting a quiet January as far as the winter transfer window goes. Both bosses say they have what they need, but should an opportunity to strengthen present itself, or a major injury occur, expect them to move swiftly. Continuity is key for City and Liverpool.

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Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez celebrates scoring against Watford on December 4, 2018
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool1613303462842
2Manchester CityMan City1613214593641
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs16120430161436
4Chelsea16104233132034
5Arsenal16104235201534
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd167542826226
7Everton166642319424
8Bournemouth167272526-123
9Leicester CityLeicester166462120122
10Wolverhampton WanderersWolves166461719-222
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham166372325-221
12Watford166372023-321
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton166371922-321
14Cardiff CityCardiff1642101530-1514
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle163491322-913
16Crystal Palace1633101323-1012
17Burnley1633101532-1712
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield1624101027-1710
19Southampton161691330-179
20Fulham1623111640-249

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