"It's genuinely important" - Gary Neville names 2 potentially defining factors in Premier League title race between Liverpool and Manchester City

Former Manchester United right-back Gary Neville.
Former Manchester United right-back Gary Neville.

Eight-time Premier League winner Gary Neville believes Ruben Dias' injury and goal difference could play a huge role in the title race between Manchester City and Liverpool.

Both teams were in action in the Premier League over the weekend. While the Reds only managed a 1-1 draw at Anfield against Tottenham Hotspur, City thrashed Newcastle United 5-0 at home.

The results meant that with three matches left to play, City hold a three-point lead over Jurgen Klopp's men. They also have a goal difference of +68 compared to Liverpool's +64 thanks to their crushing win over the Magpies.

Neville believes the latter component could become important as Pep Guardiola's side have a couple of tricky fixtures coming up. They will face Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Ham United away from home and any slip-up could see their lead diminish.

Speaking on the latest episode of "The Gary Neville Podcast," Neville said (as quoted by Manchester Evening News):

"It's genuinely important [goal difference], because I believe Wolves or West Ham could shock City. I do genuinely believe that."

The former Manchester United defender added that City's final two goals against Newcastle, which came in the dying embers of the game, could prove to be vital:

"We will see what happens, but that goal difference shift is big. They have won the league on goal difference before against Manchester United, so you can do it and this club knows you can do it on goal difference. Those last two goals were really big I felt."

After the match against the Magpies, Guardiola stated that centre-back Dias could miss the rest of the campaign due to injury. Neville believes that could also play a role in Manchester City slipping up in their title race with Liverpool.

He opined:

"Dias was injured [on Sunday]. Going away to those two teams (Wolves and West Ham), they have got players who can do it and they have got systems of play that can do it. They have had good seasons both of those teams, they are awkward."

Neville concluded:

"City will have to be at their very best. You see the centre-back partnership has been obliterated. If he [Dias] is not fit for the rest of this week... if he wasn't there that would give another boost to Liverpool's chances. I think there is something left in this season. I don't think it is going to go plain-sailing until the end."

Manchester City could notably also be without John Stones and Nathan Ake for the rest of the season.

Liverpool will hope Manchester City slip up after conceding 3-point lead

Manchester City will be favorites against both West Ham and Wolves. However, both teams are coming off impressive results in their previous matches.

The Hammers thrashed Norwich City 4-0 while Wolves came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool, meanwhile, will look to apply pressure by racking up wins. They will take on Aston Villa and Southampton away from home in their next two Premier League fixtures.

Three ways Man City can line up without Dias, Stones and Walker for final three fixtures #mcfc…

They will end the season at home to Wolves while Manchester City will take on Villa at the Etihad.

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Edited by Arjun Panchadar
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