Liverpool vs Manchester City: The tale of two cities brings a mix of Shakespearean Comedy and Greek Tragedy
The top of the table clash is probably the pinnacle of English football in terms of match play, drama, and sheer spectacle. The modern footballing opus has all the elements of a classic, a tale worth gluing yourself to the screens filled with base and organic, even Freudian, instincts for the gratification of senses. A true sensorium of this chapter in the story of English football, it has everything from charismatic and often evocative protagonists, unforeseen and volatile plot twists and a cauldron of intrigue, connivance, rage, mischief and of course freedom of victory!
Liverpool's clash match with Manchester City will be televised live to over a billion homes around the world.
The biggest fixture of the season yet will pit the table toppers and reigning champions City against a ravenous Liverpool, behind only on trifling goal difference. The Reds win over the Champions must feel like a chip on the shoulder. The deliverance can be attained only through a victory at English football's most raucous and tortuous (for opposition) arenas.
Transmitted to 179 of the 193 countries (members of United Nations) this could very well be the kind of ballistic proliferation we need for the unity of our World.
Like every timeless theatre, this is a tragedy of comedies for the loser and a comedy of tragedies for the triumphant. The characters range Machiavellian machinations to Homeric honor. They include:
Liverpool-The unconquered Challengers
Form (all competitions): WWWLDL
Liverpool are not the same unstoppable storm that they appeared in early season matches winning six out of their first League fixtures. It was festooned with a late win against PSG in the European opener. Without a win in three matches, they have suffered two losses in that spread.
After exiting the EFL cup at home, at the hands of Chelsea, they lost away to Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
The two losses sandwiched an encouraging come from behind 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.
A first title success since 1990 is clearly the strongest ambition of the lot and the start to this campaign is their best ever in 28 years.
A nagging worry for the Reds is the form of their front three and especially Mohamed Salah who has looked jaded and tired, like his World Cup showing for Egypt. The goals have dried up for the rest of the two spokes of the trident too, Sane and Firmino. However, with an incredible 14 goals in his last 16 home starts and three goals and two assists in his last three outings Man City, he should retain his spot
One positive is the upturn in form of the forgotten and perennial attendee at the Physio’s, Daniel Sturridge. He might well be in with a shout to pilfer a spot on the starting team sheet. Naby Keita is expected to be back after suffering a back spasm in the loss to Napoli. He might have to settle for the bench as Henderson may get the nod before him.
Liverpool have dominated the fixture (the last being a narrow but entertaining 4-3 victory) and are on a 12-match unbeaten home streak against their top-six rivals.
Manchester City-The unrelenting Conquerors
Form (all competitions): WDWWWW
Manchester City look ominous again. After a shock draw against the promoted Wolves at the end of August, there were hopeful gasps from the rival fans that they might relent after an unstoppable 12 months. But they were just that, Elysian fascinations as City have been on a perfect run in the league since then with 20 goals scored and only two conceded.
Even in the cups, after a jolt against Lyon, they have brushed aside Oxford United and Hoffenheim in the last 10 days.
With a manifest mandate of quelling and destroy City know they are against their closest rival for the League crown. A win in the opponents’ own yard may mean a lot psychologically than what the mathematics suggests.
Anfield, however, has been as sobering experience off late for the Citizens. A 4-3 loss last season is still their only away loss in the last 25 away days in the league. They were put to the swords in a 3-0 slaughter in last campaign’s Champions League quarters.
With an enviable tally of 27 points from the maximum of 33 (Liverpool have 14 points in the same category) against the top six they have an unrivaled record on their end. However, records seldom play a part in the action on the green stage.
Sergio Aguero, who now boasts of 200 goals for City but has a miserable record at Anfield with no goal in nine previous visits. Raheem Sterling will also bear added vim and motivation against his former admirers and consequent vile tormenters. Kevin De Bruyne is still not fit enough to take the field but Benjamin Mendy could make a return to the squad.
Guardiola faces his nemesis of sorts in Klopp. A defeat this weekend will be his third successive in an away fixture, a first in his career. Pep’s City have lost three times to the Reds already in 2018. Their worst is four losses to one opponent in to Grimsby in 1936 and Tottenham Hotspur in 1993. Overall, Klopp has beaten the teams managed by the Spaniard seven times, more than any other manager. Interestingly, prior to the two defeats, City thrashed Liverpool 5-0 at the Etihad last season, something for Pep and City players to revisit before getting on that bus.
The two managers crossed the English Channel from German Bundesliga in search of the unique recipe that the English game provides. Both have stuck to their natural footballing instincts and true to their philosophy of attacking and enterpri
sing football. Pep has certainly gotten the trophies but Klopp has also garnered a legion of admirers and brought a level of intrigue and relevance to Anfield that it has not luxuriated with on a consistent basis since the late 80s.
The Sunday blockbuster will add another episode to a rivalry that can very well go on to become one of the League’s great one (although it has a long way to claim such a distinction yet).
Anfield is the known as the devourer of opponent’s confidence. The chorus of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone”, the cacophonies of targeted verbal assaults on rival individuals, players or manager and some really large and scary dudes flourishing intimidating banners in the Kop.
Many break down before taking the field or at the sight of the hallowed gates that emphatically declare that. ‘THIS IS ANFIELD’.
Last April, it was singularly hostile and nasty even outside Anfield. Visiting for the Champions League quarterfinal the City bus and players were pelted with objects. The players were clearly left dazed and rattled while the bus was rendered unfit for the acrimonious journey back to Manchester. With no arrests and a less than satisfactory action post-match, City might still carry an edge of retribution on their tackles on Sunday. Not that the match needs any more lemony zest or tingling spice in the frothing pots of passions on each side.
Currently, Liverpool comes with a string of four home wins in the Premier League. In fact, they are unbeaten at Anfield in last 24 matches dating from April 2017 – beat in the Premier League currently.
City are on the completely antipodal as far as fortunes in the same stadium go. They have not tasted any win at the fortress in their last 17 attempts losing 12 and drawing the rest. Their last victory came one and a half decades ago, winning 2-1 in May 2003 through Nicholas Anelka’s double.
Liverpool versus Manchester City lacks the heritage or the bad blood that both clubs enjoy with the Red half of Manchester but with Manchester United falling apart and being relegated to the inside pages, Liverpool and Manchester City a forging a new age gladiatorial showdowns.
The script is set for the erstwhile giant to reclaim the Holy Grail for a rampant and burgeoning dynasty of Premier League hegemony. None of those words impute to United, a sign of how the mighty have seized to be relevant.
Mourinho and United are not the main events anymore, as the Klopp and Pep show rock the seismic charts and takes the World by storm this Sunday evening.