One of the most exciting Premier League title races in years could see Manchester City or Liverpool crowned champions by the finest of margins.
If Manchester City win their remaining three matches, they will finish on 98 points while Liverpool would end the season on 97 if they take maximum points in their three matches – a total which would represent the highest achieved by a second-placed side in English top-flight history.
On paper, each side’s remaining fixtures look winnable, but will there be a late twist in the tale and could a side with recent form of upsetting reigning champions be the team to provide it?
BBC Sport analyses the quirkier stats ahead of what is sure to be a dramatic title run-in…
The state of play
City are a point clear at the top of the table with nine points up for grabs.
Pep Guardiola’s side have a superior average of points per game (2.54) and goals per game (2.54) than Liverpool (2.26 and 2.51).
However, Liverpool’s defence is tighter, with their goals conceded per game average at 0.57, while City’s is 0.63.
|Race for the Premier League title|
|Date||Liverpool fixtures||Date||Man City fixtures|
|26 April||Huddersfield (H)||28 April||Burnley (A)|
|4 May||Newcastle (A)||6 May||Leicester (H)|
|12 May||Wolves (H)||12 May||Brighton (A)|
Can Burnley claim their biggest scalp?
It is hard to see a Huddersfield victory at Anfield on Friday, but two days later City travel to Burnley, who possess a notable recent record that may be cause for concern.
The Clarets have beaten the reigning Premier League champions on four occasions: Manchester United in August 2009, City in March 2015, Leicester City in January 2017 and most recently Chelsea in August 2017.
On a more positive note for City, Burnley have won just one of their last 15 games at Turf Moor against ‘big six’ sides, although that victory did come in their last such game, against Tottenham in February.
Guardiola has never lost against Burnley in the Premier League (with his sides scoring 13 and conceding three), with City’s only loss coming under former manager Manuel Pellegrini in March 2015.
City are going for a hat-trick of 5-0 wins over Burnley this season, having beaten them by that scoreline in the reverse league fixture in October and also in the FA Cup, in a fourth-round game at the Etihad in January.
|Premier League title race form guide|
|Team||Form over the past 10 league games|
Help from the old guard?
Manchester City play Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City in their penultimate match of the season.
Can Liverpool fans rely on their former boss, who joined the Foxes from Celtic in February, to take three points from City at Etihad Stadium?
Leicester beat City in the home fixture earlier in the season and have also taken points from Chelsea and Liverpool this campaign.
Liverpool travel to St James’ Park to play Newcastle on 4 May, in the knowledge they thumped Rafael Benitez’s side 4-0 in the reverse fixture.
But City were beaten 2-1 by the Magpies in January, so can they pull off the double against the league’s top two sides?
The stats don’t look good for Benitez, with the Spaniard, who won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, losing three and drawing one of his last four games in charge of Newcastle against the Reds, letting in nine goals and scoring just three.
His record against his old clubs does not make good reading either.
He has won just one in nine meetings when he has faced former clubs in the Premier League.
Down to the final day?
Brighton and Hove Albion host City on the final day of the season and they have a torrid record against the title-chasers.
They have lost their last four matches against City, including the 1-0 FA Cup semi-final loss earlier this month, shipping eight goals and scoring just one.
The last time the Seagulls beat City was in a second-tier game in 1989 and they managed a draw in the League Cup in 2008.
In 21 games in all competitions, Brighton have one four, with a 19% win rate.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have been the surprise newly-promoted package this season, climbing to seventh after beating Arsenal 3-1 on Wednesday night.
And their record against the other Premier League ‘top six’ sides isn’t too shoddy, either.
In 11 games, Wolves have won three, drawn four and lost three, but, crucially, they lost to Liverpool at home in December.
However, they have beaten Liverpool this season in the FA Cup, before also knocking out Manchester United to reach the semi-finals.
Wolves have the third best success rate (behind only Liverpool, and City) against the ‘top six’, at 36.6% with the next closest Arsenal on 30%.
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