LONDON – Manchester City held a 13-point lead in the English Premier League two months ago. The next time the champions play, they could be in second place.
In the latest twist in the title race, City stumbled against Crystal Palace — again — by drawing 0-0 at an atmospheric Selhurst Park on Monday to give second-placed Liverpool further hope of reeling in Pep Guardiola’s team and reclaiming the biggest prize in English soccer.
City extended its advantage to four points but Liverpool plays twice -- the first against Arsenal on Wednesday -- before City is next in action in the league, on April 2. Liverpool also has a superior goal difference.
The top two also meet at City’s Etihad Stadium on April 10.
Palace was the last team to stop City scoring in the league — in a 2-0 win at the Etihad on Oct. 30 — and did so again, even if Patrick Vieira's team rode its luck.
Joao Cancelo and Kevin De Bruyne struck the post for City in a match that was mostly one-way traffic except for some sporadic and dangerous counterattacks from Palace, mirroring what happened in the meeting of the teams 4 1/2 months ago.
Arguably the best chance of the game fell to City midfielder Bernardo Silva, who somehow managed to prod a shot wide from barely two meters out following Jack Grealish’s low center across the face of goal.
Guardiola opted to make no substitutions, saying he was happy with the way his team was playing despite frustration appearing to set in over the final 15 minutes.
And Silva remained bullish about City's position with nine games left.
“Still a long way to go,” the Portugal international said. “We are still in a good position. It's still better to be in our position than Liverpool's. They still have to play in our stadium as well. It's going to be exciting."
Liverpool has the better form, though. While the Reds have won their last eight games in the league, City has dropped points in three of its last seven outings — after a 1-1 draw at Southampton in January and a 3-2 loss at home to Tottenham last month.
And Liverpool's superior firepower may yet prove the difference, with City again missing a cutting edge against Palace without an out-and-out striker in the team.
As for Palace, Vieira was just proud of how his players held their nerve against what he regards as one of “the best four or five teams in Europe.”
“It was a team effort and our performance was really good," Vieira said. “When you play against the quality of players they have, you need a bit of luck at times and at times we were lucky but you also need to perform as well.”
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