Ahead of his side’s trip to Liverpool this Sunday, Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola insisted they were their biggest rivals.
“Liverpool always have been our biggest challengers and they will be now.
“Being in the position that we are, with the World Cup, anything can happen,” Guardiola said.
It could be mind games.
But this is ably supported by hard, cold facts.
For the past five years, the Premier League title race has effectively been a two-horse battle between Liverpool and City.
City have won four of the last five, while the Reds lifted the trophy during the pandemic in 2020.
In those years, Jurgen Klopp has continued to push Guardiola tactically, as both managers sometimes went into the last day of the season one point apart.
On Sunday however, the reigning champions meet the faltering challengers at Anfield.
A 13-point chasm already separates the two powerhouses on the table.
Liverpool host City with their unbeaten home record for 2022/2023 still intact. Klopp’s side have now gone 27 fixtures without suffering defeat on their own turf.
However, the Reds’ are suffering an injury crisis. Arthur Melo, Luis Diaz, Joel Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are unavailable for selection.
But City were able to rest red-hot Erling Haaland for their Champions League trip to FC Copenhagen in midweek.
Haaland has begun life in England on a stunning note, with 20 goals to his name in all competitions.
It will be interesting watching the Norway striker go head-to-head with Virgil van Dijk, as Liverpool try to keep out City’s rampaging attackers.
This game will surely define Liverpool’s season. If they are able to defeat Guardiola’s men, it could provide a much-need flip to kickstart their season. A draw might be okay. But defeat simply signals a disastrous season.