After Liverpool blew Manchester City out of the water last year to win the Premier League, the two clubs have seen a remarkable change of form this season.
They are both are on record-breaking runs – but City’s 18-game-winning streak is one to covet, while Liverpool’s worst series of home defeats since 1923 is less enviable.
And with manager Jurgen Klopp even conceding the race for the title is over for his club – just what has happened at either end of the East Lancs Road to cause this incredible flip in fortunes?
Man City are currently 10 points clear at the top of the league with a record 18 successive wins, while reigning champions Liverpool are in sixth having lost their last four home games.
The two cities might not be that far apart geographically but the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester, not just in sport but in society, is massive.
When I think of the Liverpool’s greatest rivals, I would say Manchester United or Everton, but in recent years it’s been their battle with City which has grabbed the headlines.
Since City’s financial takeover in 2008 they have become one of the biggest sides in the country. The one team standing in the way of The Reds’ pursuit of glory.
In 2017-18 they broke all records, 100 points, over one hundred goals and the most wins in a single season.
But it was Liverpool’s 5-1 victory in Europe over the soon to be crowned champions that set the stalls out for the race the following year.
Ever since then the two giants have locked horns every season, and it was Liverpool’s maiden Premier League title victory that made me think things would be no different this time.
However, one advantage that City always have over the rest of the league is their sheer quality, not just in their starting line-up, but in their whole squad.
In the past even Jose Mourinho has stated that their B team might be good enough to top the table.
The City team we have seen under Pep Guardiola’s reign is better than Klopp’s Liverpool.
While many will begin to clamour and point to their failure to conquer Europe, I don’t think we’ve ever seen a group of players collectively better in Premier League history.
With the coronavirus pandemic intensifying the schedule it was inevitable clubs would pick up injuries, therefore having to use all their players.
That’s why from day one I have seen Manchester City as favourites this season, but I expected Liverpool to be right behind.
While this Liverpool team have been arguably the best in world football for the past three years, you always felt that injuries to their stars would leave them vulnerable, it isn’t until now that we’ve seen that.
Their recent record-breaking defeat in the Merseyside derby saw Everton win at Anfield for the first time in 22 years, but also left Liverpool on their worst home run for almost a century.
All season I’ve heard fans say that their downfall has been due to the injury of Van Dijk, while true that a fully fit eleven may get closer, it’s no excuse.
If you go back to the 2018-19 season, despite Kevin De Bruyne almost missing 20 league games, City managed to overtake Liverpool and win their fourth title by a point.
Even former Reds legend Jamie Carragher said that he’s ‘sick of saying’ Virgil van Dijk is out.
With Graeme Souness telling The Mirror, “They’re a shadow of their former selves.”
My point is that City were always more prepared for this unique challenge, so while the extent of Liverpool’s failure to match past heights is surprising, the fact it’s happened shouldn’t be.
Now that the sky blues are 10 points clear at the top, it would be a surprise if they don’t go on to win it.
Meanwhile Liverpool are fighting for the top four, and whether they qualify for The UEFA Champions League or not could determine their fate in battling City again next season.
The best players want to play in Europe’s premier competition, and now the likes of Salah, Mane and Van Dijk have won at Liverpool, would not qualifying tempt them to move away?
If so, then it will force another big rebuilding job for Klopp.
I still fancy their chances at qualifying, but even then, it’s clear this team needs a refresh and more depth, it helps that the perfect manager for that is already at the helm.
Manchester City on the other hand will likely buy the finished article and continue their domination. The big question mark against Guardiola though is the UCL.
He has the experience needed to win it, but City don’t. A potential reunion with Messi could be on the cards and that I think would be enough.
For Liverpool this is a blip, they will rise once again, but I don’t think this rivalry will continue to be as important as previously.
Manchester United are on the verge of returning to their former glory and a newfound Chelsea side look good, meaning the next challenge for these two clubs won’t just be each other.