Liverpool play Manchester City in what many perceive as the match which will determine as to the Premier League title’s eventual destination. It’s a bit premature to be labelling this encounter as a title decider at this halfway junction of the 2018/19 season.
This latest encounter between Manchester City, the current Champions and the bookies favourites for the title, Liverpool promises to be a lively affair. City reeling from the shock of two league defeats, a 3:2 loss at home against Crystal Palace and a 2:1 loss away to Leicester City means Liverpool are seven points ahead of City. Tottenham are sandwiched in between the two, having played a game in hand.
Pep Guardiola, one of the finest managers of his generation finds himself in unknown territory of trying to galvanise a City team who’ve dropped nine points in their last five games if you add in the 2:0 defeat to Chelsea also. Liverpool have the psychological advantage with the forward line on fire literally. The form of Firmino, Mane and Salah is simply making Liverpool one of the most lethal teams in Europe. Indeed a latest edition of L’Équipe in France, waxed lyrical about Liverpool after their 5:1 trashing of Arsenal.
I watched this particular game in Rome, Italy surrounded by silent and open mouthed Italian locals. Their silence was an endorsement of how special this Liverpool team is and how revered they are around Europe especially in a football mad country like Italy. We the fans knew last season we had a special group of players coming together especially playing together for the first time during the 2017/18 season. The knives were out for certain individuals and sections of the Liverpool fan base were more concerned about individual players performances rather than the team as a collective unit.
Reinforcing the Belief
What Jürgen Klopp has done this season is reinforce the strength of the squad with some of the most astute signings in recent Liverpool history and with the help of Sporting Director, Michael Edwards has identified and acquired the desired targets with ease. The strength of the squad is vastly improved from previous seasons. Despite Manchester City spending £778 million on their current squad, whilst Liverpool have spent just over £400 million.
In terms of footballing ability and matching Manchester City player for player I’d consider Liverpool to have the advantage particularly after winning handsomely over two legs of the Champions League against City a 3:0 home victory and a 2:1 away victory last season en route to the Final. That was last years squad, this one has Shaqiri, Alisson, Keïta and Fabinho added. Pep Guardiola knows talent and knows this is a different more resilient and powerful juggernaut he’s facing at the Etihad Stadium. The pendulum is swinging and it’s swinging away from the blue corner towards the red corner.