Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk: The title is Manchester City's to lose

Dutchman admits reigning champions already have one hand on trophy

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has admitted that the Premier League title is now Manchester City's “to lose".

Reigning champions City currently enjoy a 10-point lead at the top of the table after their 2-1 win at Arsenal the weekend was followed up by second and third-placed Chelsea and Liverpool drawing 2-2.

City needed an injury-time goal from midfielder Rodri to beat the Gunners — who had defender Gabriel Magalhaes sent-off in the second half — and manager Pep Guardiola admitted his team had been second best at the Emirates Stadium.

But that was City's 11th consecutive win and with their two main challengers for the crown drawing a day later, a fourth title in five years looks on the cards.

“It's a big gap, so they have the title maybe to lose at the moment,” said Van Dijk. “We just have to get results, play good football and win games. It sounds pretty easy but it's tough.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was absent for the match at Stamford Bridge due to a Covid-19 outbreak, along with Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip. And they now have to cope without their top goalscorers, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, for up to a month due as they head out for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

Chelsea's record signing Romelu Lukaku was dropped after an interview with Italian media in which he talked openly of his frustrations in his first season back at the club and how he would like to return to Inter Milan in the future. The Blues will also lose goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to the Afcon, while first choice wing-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell face months out injured.

And City's relentless consistency offers little hope to their rivals that the gap will be closed easily. They have averaged a total of 95 points in each of Guardiola's three title-winning seasons in England and are on course to hit that mark again.

“We showed our champion mentality, we never give up,” said Rodri after his late strike at the Emirates kept City's winning run going.

“We know how tough it is to win the Premier League and we are not going to drop it. We don't look at the others much and winning 11 games in a row, it shows that we are focused on ourselves.”

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Updated: January 3rd 2022, 1:16 PM