Lee Dixon believes the way Manchester City have fallen so far behind Liverpool in this season’s title race can be put down to one very obvious reason.
Jurgen Klopp’s men took a significant step towards ending their 30-year wait to be crowned champions of England after beating Pep Guardiola’s side 3-1 at Anfield just before the international break.
The result left Liverpool a huge nine points ahead of the two-time reigning Premier league champions and with no room for error as they bid to make it three titles in a row.
However, Dixon believes that when all players are fit there is little to choose between the two sides and argues City have simply been unlucky on the injury front – citing the serious knee problem sustained by defender Aymeric Laporte as key.
“I’m trying to put it down to one thing, I would probably say Laporte getting injured for me is the biggest factor,” former Arsenal star Dixon said. “I think he is a brilliant defender, I think he holds down that left-hand side of the defence, whoever is playing at left-back he can kind of control that side of the pitch and obviously his centre-half on the inside.
“So that’s a big area of pitch to replace somebody.
“You can put a body in there and I think that’s been a problem at centre-back as is well-documented, with Fernandinho going in there who’s a brilliant footballer but he’s not got that sixth sense of somebody just nicking in-behind him off his shoulder.
“The amount of times you go ‘they’re in position’ but somehow someone gets in, the little ones around the corner are difficult to deal with, especially around the box.”
Dixon, who won the Double while with the Gunners in 1989, continued on The Season So Far show: ‘I think Laporte, his absence, has caused a real problem with that area of the pitch.
“And then taking Fernandinho out of [midfield] to put him elsewhere, there’s a kind of domino effect in the team.
“With the ball I don’t think they’re that different, they’re still brilliantly exciting to watch. But I think defensively that one area is affected a lot of the team and that’s probably why.”