Manchester City vs Liverpool: A perennial top-two battle

23 November 2023

Manchester City vs Liverpool: A perennial top-two battle

If you had to pick the one fixture that defines this Premier League era, you would have to pick Manchester City vs Liverpool. Their recent dominance makes the decision easy.

They meet again on Saturday (live on Showmax Pro Mobile) as the current top two on the table. Here’s a look at what makes this clash another fascinating encounter.

The defining rivalry of this Premier League era

Not only have Manchester City and Liverpool been the standout Premier League clubs of the last five seasons, but that period has included some of the most dominant seasons that the league has ever seen.

They have finished as the top two teams in three of the last five seasons. Six of the top eight record Premier League points totals have come from these two clubs in this period.

City have won five of the last six league titles. The exception was when Liverpool were champions in 2019/20.

This era will be remembered in years to come for classic battles between the two on the field as well as their title races. This weekend’s match and the whole season could be additions to that list.

Another chapter of Guardiola vs Klopp

It was a rivalry that brewed in the Bundesliga and has developed in the Premier League. If you’re looking for examples of the high standard of managers that England attracts, look no further than Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp.

They’ve always offered a fascinating contrast of styles between Guardiola’s possession-based philosophy and Klopp’s high-pressing principles. There is no doubt that they’ve brought out the best in each other by the need to outperform the high standards the opponent sets.

Their respect for each other has been clear to see, which has just made their battles all the more endearing and interesting.

Liverpool getting back on their perch?

In a variety of ways, this season feels crucial for the Reds to get back to where they feel they belong.

Firstly, it’s essential that they get back into the UEFA Champions League. After qualifying for the tournament six seasons in a row, dropping into the Europa League for this season was a huge blow.

Secondly, Saturday presents an opportunity to top the league. A win will see them leapfrog City. They haven’t been in that position for more than two years and will get a massive boost as a squad if they return to the summit.

Finally, they are currently one title short of Manchester United’s English top-flight record of 20. Sir Alex Ferguson famously said he aimed to knock Liverpool off their perch. Jürgen Klopp will be relishing the opportunity to get back on it.

Salah still the king

It seems that the more the Liverpool attacking personnel changes, the more the Egyptian King stays the same.

The days of a trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are over. The other two have left and while Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo have all impressed, there is no doubt that the most important member of the attack is still Salah.

Salah has three Premier League Golden Boots and is currently three goals behind Erling Haaland on this season’s list of top scorers. Don’t rule the Egyptian out of that race yet either.

Are City relying on Haaland?

With Erling Haaland suffering injury on international duty, the question now is how reliant are City on the Norwegian for the big games?

Last season, Haaland was brought in as a supposed final piece of the jigsaw puzzle for City and after some tactical tinkering from Guardiola, the striker consistently scored at an obscene rate as the club charged to a treble.

While Guardiola always has plenty of attacking talent to call on, can they be relied upon without Haaland? Both of City’s losses this season came on rare occasions of Haaland not scoring.

With Kevin de Bruyne still missing, have City got enough big-game firepower if Haaland isn’t there or if he’s not 100% fit? Saturday could offer a great test to how they stand as a squad for the season.

Showmax Pro will be phased out by 30 November 2023, while Showmax Pro Mobile will continue to be available until the relaunch of Showmax. Find out more »

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