Years pass, rivalries change. The Premier League had a few memorable standoffs between Arsenal and Manchester United in the early 2000s, then Chelsea entered the fray before seeing Manchester City get involved in the high struggles of the championship. Since 2018, the Cityzens have found a competitor in Liverpool to talk to. From England, there is even talk of an epic duel worthy of a Real Madrid-FC Barcelona Mourinho era against Guardiola. It is true that the two clubs crush everyone across the Channel. This is still the case this season and their clash on Sunday as part of the 32nd day of the Premier League is seen as a new final.
Only a small point separates the protagonists at kick-off. The winner will then take a big step towards a new title. This is unexpected for the Reds, who have come a long way. On the evening of the 21st day, they were 11 points behind City after a slump during the festive period. Since then, the defending champion has dropped a bit of ballast; a draw at Southampton, another at Palace and then there was that unexpected home defeat against Tottenham allowing Liverpool, on the strength of a run of 10 consecutive victories, to come back on their heels. A scenario with twists and turns that offers us a new classic between the two ogres of the country.
Manchester City-Liverpool, The Classic of the Premier League
The arrival of Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp shaped this rivalry born one evening in January 2018. At Anfield, Liverpool then brought down the championship leader (4-3) for the first time this season (22 games without defeat). It will not prevent the crowning of the Skyblues at the end of the season, on the other hand, they took a new slap 3-0 at Anfield a few weeks later in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, also beaten in the return at the Etihad 2- 1. The Reds will reach the C1 final that season (lost to Real Madrid 3-1), presaging their great return to the national scene. From then on, Manchester City and Liverpool will never leave each other.
Since the 2018/2019 season, they have shared the Premier League titles (2 for City, 1 for Liverpool), even isolating themselves from the rest of the competition. Over this period, Manchester City has 338 points, Liverpool 337. The 3rd is Chelsea with… 264 points. The gap of 73 points is as abysmal as the regularity of the two heavyweights is monstrous. The figures are also equivocal when it comes to talking about efficiency. Here again, City are ahead of their rival with 350 goals against 319, far ahead of Manchester United and their 253 goals. Defensively, it’s 108 goals conceded against 117 at Liverpool. Tottenham are 3rd in this ranking for having fetched the ball 167 times without their nets.
They crushed the competition
“Over the past four seasons we haven’t always been at our best. A year ago we had different problems and we had some difficult times, but before that it was a crazy race.remembers Jürgen Klopp at a press conference, supported by his best enemy. “Liverpool are the toughest opponent I have faced in my 12 or 13 years as a manager”. Pep Guardiola, however, knows a lot about age-old rivalry. “Jürgen is making world football a better place to live. He’s a huge competitor.”, he assures. It’s hard to fault him.
As with every great sporting duel, the two teams have fed on this rivalry to go further each time. During the 2018/2019 season, Liverpool finished 2nd with an incredible record of 97 points, pushing City to conclude the championship on a series of 14 victories. The Reds were ‘content’ with the Champions League that spring. Never has a dolphin finished a championship with such a large total, raising its average to 2.55 points taken per game. A record only rivaled by Liverpool… this season. The Scousers are advancing at a rate of 2.4 points per game heading into tomorrow’s game, the second-highest average in Premier League history.
A rivalry that pushed to rise
“We push each other and that’s how it keeps you going. There is no chance of getting a little soft because the other will be there immediately to catch you.says Klopp. In sport, what helps the most is having a strong opponent. In the long run, especially, it helps you the most. I’m sure Nadal and Federer helped each other a lot. And I’m not sure that would have been the case if they hadn’t faced each other. I wouldn’t say it’s helpful (to have City as a rival for the title), but it hasn’t hurt our development.” “I admire what they do, see how good they are. I like this challenge”, replies Guardiola. All the ingredients therefore seem to be in place to witness a new historic Battle of Britain.