Goals win games, defences win championships.
It's a frequently muttered cliche in the football world yet, in the case of Manchester City and Liverpool's respective title challenges, seems apt.
City and Liverpool both bragged exceptional attacks, returning 102 goals and 101 goals after 38 completed games in the recently concluded domestic season. What ultimately separated them (aside from one less win and one additional draw on the part of Liverpool), is the key rearguard statistic: City conceded 37 goals, the Premier League's second best defence, while Liverpool shipped 50, the ninth lowest.
"Liverpool let in too many avoidable goals," said Liverpool legend Graeme Souness, a five time title winner in England, to Sky Sports. "Gerrard should be devastated because Liverpool were in the box seat and had their destiny in their own hands - but he shouldn't be disappointed with himself as he has carried that team for many years.
"He has been a worldly and one of the greatest Liverpool players in history - and his slip against Chelsea was not the reason Manchester City won the Premier League, it was letting in goals."
Souness added: "If you said to Liverpool on the first day of this season: 'Would you take Champions League football?' then every one of them, including the manager, would say 'Yes, where do I sign'."