Is today’s game between Liverpool and Manchester City going to decide the destiny of the league title? Nope. That’s crazy talk.
Whatever happens today there will still be another 2,340 minutes of football to be played this season and, when you consider VAR will be involved in those minutes, absolutely anything can, and probably will, happen.
However, there is no getting away from the fact that this is almost the perfect example of what constitutes a ‘six-pointer’ game.
If Liverpool win this afternoon the gap between them and their opponents at the end of the day will be a rather daunting (but still not insurmountable) nine points. Lose, however, and it will be down to three, a gap Manchester City will be confident of chasing down over the next 26 matches.
Of course the other thing a Liverpool defeat would do is open up the title race to the rest of the chasing pack, especially Chelsea and Leicester. They could both find themselves within a couple of wins of top place by the end of the day.
But, without sounding dismissive, I don’t feel either of those teams has the strength or stamina to go the distance. And the other expected contenders – Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester United – have been left behind by poor starts.
So, realistically, the race to be champions is all about the two teams that go head-to-head this afternoon in what must surely be the most anticipated match of the season so far.
Sometimes, as I often mention, these games which promise so much end up delivering very little as they turn into cagey affairs with neither team wanting to suffer the potentially season-defining effects of defeat.
But, with Klopp and Guardiola in the dugouts, the chances of the game being a damp squib are very limited as neither of them is the sort of manager that is readily willing to park the bus.
Having said that, neither team is currently at their peak.
Liverpool, it has to be said, are not firing on all cylinders at the moment but are still finding ways to win games. And being able to grab the points when things are not going entirely to plan on the pitch is the hallmark of a great team.
But there is only so long you can ride the back of 2-1 wins before you come a cropper.
Then again, City have shown the odd sign of fragility over the past couple of months, and have certainly not hit the heights of last season’s form. They are winning much more than they are losing, but they are also capable of shock results like their 3-2 defeat at lowly Norwich.
Who’s my money on? Well, as history has repeatedly shown, my predictions count for very little. If I had to go for a winner, it would probably be Liverpool thanks to home advantage.
But if there is one thing I will predict it’s that come Monday morning we will not only be talking about the game but also about VAR in one way or another.
That you can put money on.
Expectation vs reality
I’m not a huge fan of rugby. It’s just one of those sports I have never really fallen properly in love with. But, given that it was a World Cup final, I obviously had to watch the game between England and South Africa.
Well, that was an anti-climax of huge proportions. I would have been better off going out to run some Saturday morning errands.
In the build-up to the game, the English media had done its usual trick of over-hyping their own team and raising expectation levels to Defcon 5.
Sometimes these games which promise so much end up delivering very little as they turn into cagey affairs with neither team wanting to suffer the effects of defeat
Apparently all England had to do was walk out on the pitch, jog around for 80 minutes and then pick up the trophy. So brilliant was their display in the semi-final victory over New Zealand that nothing whatsoever could stop them winning.
Or so the media suggested.
South Africa had somewhat different ideas and were – to the limit of my rugby knowledge – both comfortable and worthy winners. England never got going and the suggestion that they had peaked too early with that semi win, turned out to be a fact.
While it would have been nice to see England win the rugby World Cup, at least I can say I have seen that happen once in my lifetime – back in 2003. And, this year, I got to see England win the cricket World Cup too.
Football, on the other hand, is proving a more difficult nut to crack.
Becoming the greatest ever
Lewis Hamilton has claimed his sixth world title putting him just one behind Michael Schumacher in the table of motor sporting greatness.
And, with age very much on the Briton’s side, it seems highly likely he will go on to equal the record and then beat it before he decides to hang up his steering wheel.
That will, obviously, make him the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time. Well, at least as far as the record books are concerned.
Personally, as I have mentioned before (and received plenty of abuse for doing so), I think a degree of his success is down to the quality of the cars he has been lucky enough to drive throughout his career.
I’m not saying Hamilton isn’t talented because he most definitely is. Supremely talented, in fact, and a very smooth and pleasant driver to watch.
But had you put Ayrton Senna or Schumacher in a similar car at a similar time in history then I suspect both of them would have been more dominant and all-conquering than Lewis, just because of their raw talent.
The only way we would ever be able to tell, of course, would be if someone invented a time machine and decided one of its most valuable uses would be to put those three drivers together at the same time in the same car on the same track.*
Failing that, however, we are going to have to work with the record books. And while Schumacher may still have his nose in front it is surely nothing more than a matter of time before Lewis overtakes him.
When it happens, will Hamilton be worthy bearer of the title of greatest driver ever? Absolutely. Will it be an indisputable fact? Not in my mind.
*It’s reasonable to assume that time machines will never be invented because if they had been, the chances are someone would have already come back in time to tell us. Just saying.