The battle for supremacy in the English Premier League came down to the finest of margins last season. Manchester City finished just one point ahead of Liverpool after fighting back from 0-2 down to beat Aston Villa on the final day. The Reds were just nine minutes away from claiming the title themselves before Ilkay Gundogan scored the Sky Blues’ winner.
The two sides were also separated by a single point in the 2018/19 campaign with City once again coming out on top on the final day. Klopp’s men breezed to the title with an 18-point margin the following year before City prevailed again in 2020/21.
City starts as favorites
With so little to separate the two sides, there is great anticipation ahead of the coming season. The titans will go head-to-head in the Community Shield on July 30th, with City currently priced at odds of +151 and Liverpool at +193, according to 1xBet. A week later, the regular season gets underway with the Manchester club odds-on to win the title at -163 and Liverpool priced at +250. So, can Klopp’s men overcome the might of Manchester City for a second time? Or will Pep claim his fifth title in sky blue?
Much will depend on the impact of their new forward players. City has signed Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund for €60m (£51.2m) after meeting his release clause, while the Reds splashed out Darwin Nunez from Benfica for €75m (£64m), with a further €25m (£21) in possible add-ons.
In theory, City should have the edge. Haaland provides reinforcements for City’s front line, which has lacked a specialist striker for some time. In contrast, Liverpool’s latest recruit is expected to be a replacement for Sadio Mane who has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich. And those are big shoes to fill.
However, another factor that needs to be considered is Liverpool’s January 2021 signing of Luis Diaz. His arrival sparked a change in form for the Reds, which resulted in 14 wins and two draws from their last 16 games of the season. In City’s last 16 games, they picked up seven points less than Liverpool as their comfortable lead dwindled. So, Liverpool had the momentum in the final stages and Diaz played a major role in that.
With the Colombian now settled in and due for his first pre-season under Klopp, he could be even more influential in the 2022/23 campaign. If he and Darwin Nunez can fill the gap left by Mane between them, then Liverpool could push City all the way once again.
A change of approach for City
For City, Haaland’s arrival could mean a change of system. City reached their first Champions League final in 2020/21 without a specialist striker due to Sergio Aguero’s absence through injury. This meant that the likes of Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, the now-departed Ferran Torres, and Jack Grealish have had to fill in over the last two seasons. Guardiola emphasized his desire to plug this gap and many feel Haaland’s appointment could help City finally land their coveted UEFA Champions League title. But will that come at the cost of another Premier League title?
So, in what is expected to be another season of fine margins, the fortunes of these two players could mean the difference between pain and glory for England’s top two competitors. Watching it unfold will be fascinating and that’s why the start of the season can’t come soon enough.