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Trevor Steven: Why I can’t see past Manchester City in three-horse title race

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It feels like this season has delivered the Premier League title race that we’ve been waiting for. In recent years we’ve had one team chasing another but this time you could throw a blanket over the top three of Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City.

Each of them are properly firing as the campaign enters the final third, and it’s difficult to see them dropping many points in the run-in. The fight below them between Aston Villa, Tottenham and Manchester United is entertaining but the top three look so focused that I can see them blowing away all comers.

If I’m honest, the team who I’m most surprised are up there is Liverpool. I thought they could go either way this season, even more so when you throw in the speculation over Mohamed Salah’s future and, lately, the news that Jurgen Klopp will step down in the summer.

But the Klopp situation only seems to have galvanised the players, while an all-new midfield has risen to the challenge, with the likes of Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Wataru Endo now looking like Liverpool players.

They’re top at the moment and there is no reason why they can’t stay there, but now it becomes about bottle. Arsenal were accused of losing theirs last season and Liverpool will face the same questions if they wobble now.

Klopp’s style has been described as “mayhem” football and the attacking play is truly multi-dimensional, but you can slip up in any game and if they go behind will they have the resilience to turn it around?

Sunday’s Carabao Cup final with Chelsea could have a significant bearing. If Liverpool win it will give them a massive boost, but losing could undermine their confidence ahead of the defining stretch of the season.

Arsenal, two points behind, are in as good a position as they could hope to be with their squad and, after five wins in a row, seem to be hitting form at the right time.

Gabriel Martinelli and especially Bukayo Saka have returned to top form, while Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard are a great combination in midfield. The Norwegian was excellent at Burnley but will need a really good end to the season. Kai Havertz’s finishing could cost them, or he could turn out to be the hero.

What I’m sure about is that Mikel Arteta is a top class manager who could take on any job. He is a chip off the old block of former mentor Pep Guardiola but we probably also underestimate the knowledge he accumulated from his vast playing experience.

Whatever happens, I don’t think they’ll fall away like last season and Arteta has already lifted the club back into the top bracket.

The Premier League title race could be decided by clashes between the top three, such as Manchester City’s trip to Liverpool on 10 March

City can go second and onto the shoulder of Liverpool tonight if, as expected, they bounce back from Saturday’s draw with Chelsea and win their game in hand against Brentford.

The quality and depth of Guardiola’s squad is second to none, they are champions of Europe and play like it, and I love watching them. They don’t get anxious if they go behind because they’ve been there and done it before.

Kevin De Bruyne is the best player in England, Rodri is the best holding midfielder, and Erling Haaland is an outstanding finisher who, after seeing his growing rage at missing chances against Chelsea, I fully expect to burst into life in the run-in.

Because I don’t see any of them dropping many points, the race could go to the wire and the remaining matches between the top three will likely be vital – starting with City’s visit to Liverpool on 10 March, when Arsenal will be praying for a draw.

And when it comes to the crunch, I struggle to see past City winning the Premier League for the fourth year in succession. They are just too good and too experienced to come this far and not finish the job.

Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who played at two World Cups and two European Championships. @TrevorSteven63.

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