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Home   /   Manchester City vs Liverpool: How it is turning into the Premier League’s biggest rivalry

From John Stones’ iconic clearance to Pep Guardiola’s rage at Anfield for the penalties not conceded. From City’s narrow win in 2018/19, to Liverpool’s domination the year later. Manchester City and Liverpool offered great battles in recent years, which extended to outside of the Premier League, making Pep Guardiola’s and Jurgen Klopp’s side two superpowers. 

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League position since both managers were present in the Premier League at the same time:

SeasonLiverpoolManchester City
2016/174th3rd
2017/184th1st
2018/192nd1st
2019/201st2nd
2020/213rd1st

It’s a rivalry that could extend all the way back to 2013/14, when the Citizens denied Liverpool a title that had been missing since 1989/90. However, the two teams only started to regularly go head-to-head in 2017/18, when Manchester City were the first team to score 100 points in a single Premier League campaign. That year, Klopp’s Reds won an astonishing three times against Guardiola’s side, knocking them out of the Champions League on their way to the final. 

Ever since, the two sides have been the only Premier League winners and, even this year, it looks inevitable that it will be either of them, with the clash on April, 10 proving ever more decisive. 

The 2013/14 story

Liverpool were looking forward to ending their drought in the Premier League, but had to endure a fierce fight with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City. At the time of the game, the league situation was as such:

 Games playedPoints
Liverpool3374
Chelsea3372
Manchester City3170

Considering Manchester City’s advantage of having played two games less, Liverpool were only virtually in first place. Two games in which they will later score four points, with a surprising draw to Sunderland. 

It was a winner-takes-all at this stage of the season and the Reds pulled an early 2-0 lead at Anfield, but were later reached thanks to a goal by David Silva and a Glen Johnson own-goal. 

Philippe Coutinho’s late winner sent the Reds at the top of the table with four games left, only to later lose by two points with slips against Chelsea and Crystal Palace. 

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The 2018/19 story

The last time this game proved to be a title decider in the second-half of the season was 2018/19. On January, 3, Liverpool arrived at the Etihad with a seven points advantage, following an unbeaten start to the campaign. 18 minutes in, Liverpool got so close to an opener that was rebounded off the line by Stones. Images will show the ball failed to cross the line by 11mm. 

Manchester City would go on and win 2-1, costing Liverpool an unbeaten season and the league title, which only seemed to enhance their curse. The Reds won 13 of their remaining 17 fixtures, with four draws. However, Manchester City won 16 of them, losing once, to Newcastle United, and winning the title by one point.

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The 2019/20 story

The title decider was as early as November, 10, with Liverpool looking to bounce back following an extraordinary campaign which, again, culminated without the Premier League title. 

It was early on, but the Reds had 31 points from their first 11 games, to City’s 25. A win would have opened an incredible gap which they could have managed for the remaining two-thirds of the season. For City it was a chance not to lose, were they to make the title theirs for the third consecutive time. 

Two Liverpool strikes in the first 13 minutes set the game Liverpool’s way, with Guardiola left unhappy with Michael Oliver’s decisions to not assign two penalties to his side. Liverpool, eventually, went on to win the league with a whopping 18-points advantage. 

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The Champions League clashes

If Liverpool thought they had a curse on the Premier League, perhaps Manchester City’s biggest obsession is the Champions League, the only major trophy they have been unable to win during Guardiola’s time. 

In 2017/18, City were on their way to making history, scoring 100 Premier League points. Their first defeat of the campaign, however, arrived when Liverpool pulled a stunning 4-1 lead at Anfield, winning 4-3 on January, 10. 

Guardiola’s side were still considered favourites in what was Liverpool’s first Champions League knockout stage run since 2009. However, the Reds practically won the tie on the first-leg, with a 3-0 win at Anfield, before also winning at the Etihad 2-1.

Guardiola was again left unhappy, with a potentially crucial 2-0 lead at the Etihad denied by another refereeing error. 

What changed since the 2018/19 title decider:

Very little changed since, team wise. If anything, the two squads are stronger than before. Of Manchester City’s 14 players, seven are still in the team, but key players Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus were all unused subs. 

Liverpool, instead, still have nine of the 11 starters, with only Dejan Lovren and Georginio Wijnaldum having left since. The addition of Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota in place of subs Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri hints that the Reds made a step forward. 

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Since 2018/19, these two sides have been absolute protagonists in the Premier League, with only Manchester United’s second place last season preventing them from finishing in the top two places for three years in a row. The fourth one looks ever more likely as we head towards the end of 2021/22. 

Incredibly, the points tally these two teams collected since the start of that campaign is almost equal. Manchester City scored 338 points since the start of 2018/19, to Liverpool’s 337. This is consequence of City’s one point advantage in 2018/19 and 2021/22. Liverpool’s 18 points lead in 2019/20 was virtually nulled by City’s 17 points lead on the Reds the following season. 

Next up is Chelsea with 264, a whopping 73 points behind Klopp’s side. This averages to around 18 points a season. A huge amount if we consider that they are third in this table. This means that, over the last four years, City and Liverpool have truly been in a league of their own. 

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Liverpool surprised the Citizens, scoring 196 points across two seasons. That is a record of 62 wins, 10 draws and four defeats. That would be 58 wins, nine draws and one defeat in 69 games if we stop the tally on the moment they won their first Premier League title.

City did even better with 198 if we take into account 2017/18, but lost five times in 40 games, compared to Liverpool’s spell with just one league loss in 69.

The potential consequences of the upcoming game

This will not be the last time Guardiola and Klopp will face each other this season. The rivals are expected to play twice in the FA Cup semi-final and could, potentially, even meet in the Champions League. 

However, this game counts for the title, arguably the most important competition. As it stands, Manchester City lead with 73 points to Liverpool’s 72. 

A situation few believed possible when Liverpool stood 14 points behind, in January, with two games in hand. Guardiola’s side were expected to fly away, but instead it has been Klopp’s side who increased the pace, winning 10 Premier League games in a row and 17 of the last 18 in all competitions. 

City dropped points in draws to Crystal Palace and Southampton, plus a last-minute defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. 

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The similarity to 2018/19 is incredible. At this stage of the season, Manchester City had 74 points, to Liverpool’s 73. Both sides won their last eight games and Liverpool finished with an outrageous amount of 97 points which proved not enough to win the title. 

Once again, somebody is on course for registering a record-breaking tally for second-place. 97 is too much to match, but surpassing Manchester United’s 89 in 2011/12 is all but impossible. 

Highest points tallies in the Premier League

OverallPointsSeasonFor 2nd placePointsSeason
Man City1002017/18Liverpool972018/19
Liverpool992019/20Man United892011/12
Man City982018/19Liverpool862008/09
Liverpool972018/19Man United852009/10
Chelsea952004/05Chelsea852007/08
Chelsea932016/17Liverpool842013/14
Liverpool could potentially hold four of the seven highest points tallies by a runner-up.

During the last four seasons, Man City and Liverpool’s domination broke through all points-records in the Premier League, even surpassing Chelsea’s tally that had lasted for more than a decade. 

In the last four years, Liverpool and Manchester City also broke or tied the following records:

Most wins in a single season32 (Man City in 2018/19 and Liverpool in 2019/20)
Most home wins in a single season18 (Man City in 2018/19 and Liverpool in 2019/20)
Most consecutive wins18 (Liverpool in 2019/2020)
Most consecutive home wins24 (Liverpool in 2019/20)
Most consecutive away wins12 (Manchester City in 2020/21)
Fewest home defeats0 (Liverpool in 2018/19 and 2019/20)
Largest lead at any point of the season23 (Liverpool in 2019/20)
Earliest title win7 games remaining (Liverpool in 2019/20)

Trophy comparison

Since Jurgen Klopp was able to win his first trophy with Liverpool, after losing three finals in a row (that would be six in a row for the manager if we don’t count the German Super Cup as a major trophy), we can consider that the Liverpool-City rivalry reached its real starting point.

Manchester City6 (Premier League x2, Fa Cup, League Cup x3)
Liverpool5 (Premier League, League Cup, Champions League, European Super Cup, Clubs’ World Cup)
Chelsea4 (Europa League, Champions League, Clubs’ World Cup, European Super Cup)
Arsenal1 (Fa Cup)
Leicester City1 (Fa Cup)

Only Chelsea have come close to winning as much as Klopp’s and Guardiola’s side, but all their success was on international competitions. Again, Manchester City and Liverpool had the better of all their other domestic competitors. 

Past meetings

2021/22LeagueLiverpool2-2Man City
2020/21LeagueLiverpool1-4Man City
2020/21LeagueMan City1-1Liverpool
2019/20LeagueMan City4-0Liverpool
2019/20LeagueLiverpool3-1Man City
2019/20Community ShieldLiverpool1-1 (4-5)Man City
2018/19LeagueMan City2-1Liverpool
2018/19LeagueLiverpool0-0Man City
2017/18Champions League QFMan City1-2Liverpool
2017/18Champions LeagueLiverpool3-0Man City
2017/18LeagueLiverpool4-3Man City
2017/18LeagueMan City5-0Liverpool
2016/17LeagueMan City1-1Liverpool
2016/17LeagueLiverpool1-0Man City
2015/16LeagueLiverpool3-0Man City
2015/16League Cup FLiverpool1-1 (1-3)Man City
2015/16LeagueMan City1-4Liverpool
2014/15LeagueLiverpool2-1Man City
2014/15LeagueMan City3-1Liverpool
2013/14LeagueLiverpool3-2Man City

Miscellaneous facts: 

  • Man City have not won consecutive games against Liverpool since 1947 
  • Man City won both times the two disputed a final in the last 20 meetings, both of which on penalties
  • Of the last 20 meetings, only three times has the away team won
  • After winning eight times in 12 matches, Liverpool have only won once against Manchester City in the last eight.
  • Liverpool are the side Pep Guardiola has failed to beat the most as Manchester City manager (nine times in 14 games)

Upcoming league matches

Man City on the left and Liverpool on the right:

Liverpool H2Man City A1
Brighton H13Man Utd H7
Watford H19Everton H17
Leeds A16Newcastle A15
Newcastle H15Tottenham H4
Wolves A8Aston Villa A11
West Ham A6Southampton A12
Aston Villa H11Wolves H8
Average position11.25Average position9.38

The upcoming fixtures suggest Man City may endure an easier run and this might mean that for Liverpool, it is a defining clash: they must win the game if they want to avoid a repeat of 2019.

On that occasion, Manchester City won their remaining 14 matches and Liverpool were unable to overturn a one point deficit, despite winning their last 10.

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