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Kevin de Bruyne & Liverpool's Mohamed Salah show class from Man City is permanent – Danny Murphy's analysis

For various reasons, Kevin de Bruyne and Mohamed Salah have not reached the highlights of the previous season this season – but both showed their qualities when it was important on Sunday.

Manchester City and Liverpool both faced tricky matches and played for the final in 2018/19 that same afternoon. It was a potentially important day in the title race.

However, De Bruyne scored two of City's three goals and put in a midfield midfield as they took on a superior victory over Crystal Palace. A few hours before Salah's spectacular attack had cemented Liverpool's victory over Chelsea to put his side back on the top table.

The former midfielder from Reds Danny Murphy explains how both players were so impressive, why they will play a major role in the title race – and he judges who is the winner at the end.

"De Bruyne is unstoppable"

De Bruyne had scored 16 Premier League submissions last season – more than any other in the top five leagues in Europe – but had not scored any before the city's victory at Selhurst Park in 2018/19. The Belgian was widely hailed as the city's best player when he broke a number of Premier League points and records on the way to the 2017/18 season title, but he has played just 924 out of a possible 2,046 minutes in the league and 90 Minutes completed for the second time against Palace.

Danny Murphy: "Injuries spoiled De Bruyne's season, which tells you how wonderful the City team is.

"Although they did not take on someone who was the best midfielder of last season for me, and the best player in any position who has the goal, the fate of the title is still in their hands.

"But even against Palace was very obvious that when De Bruyne is in top form, he is not far from unstoppable.

"His ability to see a pass and open teams is as good as any midfielder in the world, as demonstrated by the way he set up City's opener for Raheem Sterling.

"Of course he also has a stubborn team and is ready to fight back for the team, but that's the case for every player in the city, and what De Bruyne brings is the extra quality of the ball that others do not.

"In the situation where the city is now quadrupling, they will have some close games that could be decided in a single moment by someone who can be quiet and see the all-important pass.

City 183 points in two season incredible – Guardiola

"For them, it's all about who can make the difference when it's maybe 10-0 before the big game – and De Bruyne is that man.

"Whether it's a cross, a pass, a defensive defense ball, a set-play or a long-range strike, you know he'll deliver, he can do it all and make it easy.

"Whatever the city will win in the next few weeks, De Bruyne will play a huge role, because when he plays, they are a better team.

"The good news for her is that he is not only fresh for the run-in, he also looks like he's finally going to be fit and fit.

"Pep Guardiola did not bring him until the end of the Champions League defeat against Tottenham on Tuesday, but I would be surprised if he does not stand in a different starting eleven in the next few weeks."

"Salah's goal was a reminder of how good he is"

Salah was voted player of the 2017-1818 Professional Footballer Club after scoring 44 goals in all competitions. He helped Liverpool reach the Champions League final. He has played 2,913 minutes out of 3,060 possible in the league this season and scored 19 goals in the Premier League, compared to the 32 in which he won the Golden Boot as top scorer last season.

Danny Murphy: "You can not really compare Salah's previous campaign with De Bruyne – he has played almost every game this season and has actually made a significant contribution to Liverpool being where they are, even though their Tork colleagues are lagging behind last year.

"Because he was not that prolific, he has done some unfair criticism, but whenever I watch him play, he still has the same hunger and the same sharpness." He still occupies opposition players and puts himself in wonderful positions.

"I like his humility when I hear him say how important it is for the team to win games and trophies, not just success when it comes to them.

"I think that says a lot about him, so I was very happy to score him on Sunday, especially with such a wonderful punch.

"Even before his goal, his performance against Chelsea was as good as I've ever seen him – from the start with his touch and appetite.

"His goal, however, was sensational, and of course that rounded it all down, because it would put more emphasis on his performance, but even if he had not met, I would praise him."

Salah cut in from the right to the inside, before triggering a great hit that flew into the top corner of the net. It was his first outside-box goal in the Premier League since he met Manchester City in January 2018.

"Because what Salah did last year was so remarkable, there was a kind of inevitability that people would ask him if he did not repeat it.

"I can not say that anyone can say that he has a bad season because he is top scorer with Sergio Aguero of the Premier League, and the fact that he has a very good chance of winning the Golden Boot again says it all out.

"Defenders know him and what he wants is better this season, but they still can not stop him.

"Teams have actually dealt with him, but that means other players like Sadio Mane have been given more freedom to contribute more than before.

"That's all positive, because it's important that you do not rely too much on a player, but Salah's goal on Sunday was a reminder of how good he is.

"He is a big-game player, a world-class talent who will score more goals in the Premier League and in Europe by the end of the season."

"One slip is everything now" – who wins the title?

The lead at the top of the Premier League table has changed 10 times in the last 67 days

Danny Murphy: "All goals are important, but Salah's strike on Sunday took Anfield out of the way.

"Liverpool have scored many important goals in recent weeks – some of them happy – but this was so good that fans believe they will win this game and they have seen it, the players and the public.

"Whether it's a miracle goal, a deflected goal, or a mistake made by the goalkeeper who gives you the points, nobody cares when the game is won, but of course, if the title is at stake, it'll take everyone away.

"I do not think the Red Boss, Jürgen Klopp, his players or the fans are getting carried away, it was a great achievement crowned by an incredible goal, but their situation has not changed – City is still somewhere slips.

Race for the Premier League title
date Liverpool games date Man City games
April 21 Cardiff (A) 20th of April Tottenham (H)
April 24th Manchester United (A)
26th of April Huddersfield (H) April 28th Burnley (A)
5th of May New Castle (A) May 4th Leicester (H)
12th of May Wolves (H) 12th of May Brighton (A)

"How ironic, given the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United, Citys could decide the title race next week after Old Trafford.

"I think Liverpool will win the last four games – I would be surprised if they do not.

"That would mean if Liverpool slip, then Liverpool will be champion.

"City has to play Tottenham first, but going to Old Trafford will be a huge test for them, because it's a derby and United still has a lot to do.

If Manchester City wins its last five league games, the Premier League trophy will remain at Etihad Stadium. If Liverpool wins the last four games and city drop points anywhere, the Reds will win their first title since 1990 and their first Premier League title.

"For all those" we do not want Liverpool to win, "you hear from the United fans, they still want to finish in the top four.

"And the players do not have the opinion of the fans anyway, the United team will want to win this game, because when you go to the court, you have your personal pride, pride in your family and the club you're playing for and Respect for your manager

"In the case of United they want to play in the next season also Champions League football.

"Yes, United have some injuries and they do not play well, but when it comes to them, they will play under the lights in Old Trafford City, and if they win, they have a great chance of reaching the top four.

Liverpool – Chelsea 2: 0: Jürgen Klopp is proud of the performance of Liverpool

"Of course, they will be in good hands and it will be a big challenge for the city to get three points from a game they have to win.

"My gut feeling is that they will not do it, I just feel they will lose points against Spurs or United.

"Do not get me wrong, if the city wins each of these games comfortably and plays brilliantly, it would not surprise me because they are such a good team, but their entry is more difficult and more likely." to slip

"Whoever wins it, Liverpool and City both deserve high recognition for their consistency and style.

"The sad thing is that one of them has to finish second with a points gallery, attack power and style that has won many league titles over the years, but it will be great to see who ends up on top."

Danny Murphy spoke to Chris Bevan of BBC Sport.

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