Could Man City and Arsenal’s Champions League Hopes Help Liverpool’s Premier League Quest?

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When a football club is on the hunt for silverware domestically and on the continent, it’s often said that the latter is a distraction from the job at hand.

That really depends on the aspirations of the individual club – last season, for example, Manchester City were desperate to end their long wait for a Champions League title. It just so happens that they were so much better than everyone else in the Premier League, so they won that too.

For Liverpool and Arsenal, there’s no doubt that they would walk away from their continental obligations tomorrow if it meant they won the EPL title this term. But the Gunners have a duty to their fans to give the Champions League a really good go and that surely plays into the hands of Jurgen Klopp and his men.

Driven to Distraction

The Champions League betting odds make both Man City and Arsenal overwhelming favourites to win their respective Round of 16 ties against Copenhagen and Porto respectively, which has squeezed their outright prices into 11/5 and 11/2.

If they both live up to expectations, that means they will play their respective quarter-final ties in back-to-back weeks in April – slap-bang in the middle of the title race. To make matters all the more interesting, the meeting between the Cityzens and Liverpool on March 10 will take place just a couple of days prior to the second leg of that last 16 clash with Copenhagen.

City, of course, has been there and done it – Pep Guardiola knows how to use his star-studded squad in a way that maximises the performances of his players while handing them rests at key times. But this is not a City with an air of invincibility, as has been the case in the past, and for all their attacking talent, there’s a vulnerability to them defensively – they’ve only kept one clean sheet since October in the Premier League, which came against lowly Sheffield United.

Thin On the Ground

A glimpse of this Arsenal squad reveals the dangerously thin line between success and failure that awaits Mikel Arteta if his key figures suffer injury or a loss of form.

The absence of a Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard or a Gabriel would prove catastrophic, given the lack of quality waiting in reserve in their respective positions. Who can forget the tail-end of last season, when their Premier League title aspirations faded with Rob Holding deputising as centre-back?

The Gunners were deserving winners in their 3-1 triumph over Liverpool at the start of February, but that was a Reds side shorn of the talents of Mo Salah and with a half-fit Trent Alexander-Arnold in tow. Alisson also had a particularly rare off-day in goal.

Arsenal also have to play Newcastle three days after their first leg against Porto, before tackling away games against Man City and Brighton from March 31 to April 6 – with a potential Champions League quarter-final just days after that trip to the Seagulls.

There’s no doubt that the cards are stacked against Arteta’s men – much to Liverpool’s delight. Whether Manchester City can challenge on two fronts remains to be seen, too.

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