Liverpool’s upcoming clash with Manchester City poses a rather bizarre spectacle due to a number of interesting factors.
Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League champions will undoubtedly be relishing the prospect of receiving the guard of honour that Pep Guardiola promised from the team that beat them to the title last season by a solitary point.
A lot has been said and broadcasted off the pitch since Liverpool ended their 30-year title wait and secured the club’s 19th league championship following City’s defeat at Stamford Bridge last week.
However, it is important to remember that there are serious implications on the pitch that are yet to really be documented regarding the continent’s two standout teams.
Guardiola and Klopp both will feel that despite seven league matches remaining of the 2019/20 campaign, one eye will already be fixated towards next season where there will likely be a much closer race for the title.
With the league mathematically wrapped up, Liverpool’s and City’s upcoming clash would seem to some like a non-spectacle or rather a free hit for both teams to experiment and not obsess over getting a result.
Despite this, there is more riding on this fixture than perhaps advertised. It’s rare that two teams are due to lock horns with little to nothing now riding on their remaining PL fixtures. For Liverpool, this match plays little to no significance in terms of result but it is ridiculous to think that Klopp and his team will merely just roll over and have their bellies scratched.
City will undoubtedly be hurting and Liverpool will want to assert their dominance against the team they pipped the title from. 23 points currently separate the two teams which would suggest the gulf in class this season has been vast.
This is indeed true, however, it is worth noting that the title was lost for City practically since January so Liverpool’s coronation has just made conclusive what was common knowledge six months ago.
The chasm between both Liverpool and Manchester City in terms of the quality of players, on the other hand, is very marginal and it could even be argued that the latter’s squad is slightly superior.
This allows both teams to solely focus on the quality of the opposition and to see which style of play will prevail when all bets are off. City’s meek surrender of their title will feel like an insult having lost their crown after just 31 matches played this season.
Too often this season, City have been the architect of their own downfall – losing matches on the counter-attack and failing to punish teams when the team are dominating possession.
City may be the best team on the eye, but the reality is that they have been bullied and have failed to keep up with the ruthless nature and relentlessness that Klopp has installed into Liverpool’s DNA.
The German manager has lost just two Premier League matches over the past two seasons, meanwhile, Guardiola and City have lost as many games as an Arsenal team currently in freefall this campaign. When City lose there is a tendency for their whole carefully-constructed house of cards to utterly collapse.
On the other hand, Liverpool are able to remain in control even when they seem on the edge. Klopp and the team’s ability to adapt and win in multiple scenarios this season has been the definitive difference and is something City will look to improve next season and address in the transfer window.
If City put a marker down and win the game it could give Guardiola and his players belief that even Liverpool can be made to look vulnerable and this can give them added belief next season.
Liverpool will be desperate not to let that happen as the Reds will be fully aware of just how costly it was when they were last beaten at the Etihad Stadium back in January of last year.