Man City slump as rivals thrive: How the Premier League title race has turned
The last four rounds of Premier League action have seen reigning champions Manchester City dramatically lose ground on their rivals.
Liverpool's hopes of claiming a first top-flight title in 29 years were enhanced again on Wednesday as they moved six points clear at the summit. As Jürgen Klopp's men coasted to a 4-0 home victory over Newcastle United, Manchester City were beaten for the third time in four Premier League matches, losing 2-1 at Leicester City. As a result, the reigning champions - who topped the table at the start of December - are now seven points adrift of Liverpool, with free-scoring Tottenham up to second, six points off the pace.
We look at the contrasting fortunes of the top three in recent weeks.
LIVERPOOL - 51 points (last four games - W W W W)
Amid City stumbling, Liverpool have taken advantage with eight straight wins, their best ever Premier League run under Klopp. A 4-0 victory at Bournemouth set the tone for their recent form - Mohamed Salah returning to his prolific best with a hat-trick - while Xherdan Shaqiri's brace secured a 3-1 Anfield win over Manchester United. Victories over Wolves and Newcastle United have since been sealed without needing third gear, but Arsenal and City are up next for the Reds.
TOTTENHAM - 45 points (last four games - W W W W)
Spurs' purple patch started following their 4-2 derby defeat to Arsenal at the beginning of December and they are now on a winning run of five in the Premier League, propelling them back into the hunt for top-flight honours. Perhaps the most alarming element of Spurs' form for their title rivals is the free-scoring nature of their recent victories, Mauricio Pochettino's men winning 6-2 at Everton on Sunday before a 5-0 hammering of Bournemouth at Wembley on Boxing Day. Spurs next face Wolves and Cardiff City before welcoming Manchester United to Wembley on January 13.
MANCHESTER CITY - 44 points (last four games - L W L L)
City headed to Stamford Bridge aiming to reclaim top spot from Liverpool and played for much of the first half with an irresistible swagger. Pep Guardiola's side were almost implausibly dominant but they failed to score. On their first attack of any note in the 44th minute, Chelsea did through N'Golo Kanté and City have never truly rediscovered their poise. In a run of three defeats in four games, they actually conceded the most chances in the game they won, but Richarlison was the main culprit as Everton sunk to a Gabriel Jesus-inspired 3-1 defeat. Since then, Andros Townsend and Ricardo Pereira have produced moments of magic that City's sudden vulnerability provided fertile ground for. Retaining the league from this position would rank alongside anything Guardiola has achieved in his decorated career.
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