Premier League 2019-20: Jurgen Klopp continues to be Pep Guardiola's kryptonite
Ever since Pep Guardiola embraced the Premier League, he has left pundits, viewers, former players, fans and anyone involved with the Premier League, in awe.
The type of football Manchester City have produced under Pep has been nothing short of sensational. The quick passing, the immaculate positioning of players and the goals scored under his tutelage have been remarkable. Manchester City have won back to back Premier League titles under Pep Guardiola, but there has been one man who has continuously challenged and put the pressure on Pep.
That man is none other than Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp. The two have faced each other previously in Germany where they beat each other four times apiece. In England though, Klopp has had the better of Pep with his Liverpool side defeating Manchester City five times as opposed to Pep's 3 wins. Thus, it is not a surprise that Guardiola's lowest points per game average is against Klopp.
Manchester City play a high press and high possession game under Pep, but Klopp has managed to crack the code. Klopp has implemented a fine balance of possession play and counter-attacking to tackle the City threat and it has been successful.
Liverpool are a high pressing team as well and they sometimes catch City off guard especially when the front trio of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are on top of their game. The Liverpool front trio has also pushed back the City full-backs over the years. We have seen the City wing-backs fly forward under Pep's management but against Liverpool, their job becomes a touch harder and they're forced to stay back due to the pace and agility of Liverpool's front three.
This has made Pep change his tactics over the years and he has actually made his players drop back a bit when Liverpool have the ball and soak in the pressure, something very rare from Pep. That is why City's ball possession percentage is lower against Liverpool as compared to other opponents.
Overall though, the Sky Blues still try to play attractive football and don't compromise often on their style of play. On the other hand, we have seen Klopp adapt over the years and this year, in particular, his side is willing to grind out results even if their gameplay doesn't look pretty.
During last weekend's game, we saw Liverpool take advantage early as they finished their chances efficiently to go three up in the first hour itself. Although City fought back in the last half hour of the game and even got a goal back, it was a tad late as they missed a few chances and were exposed at the back when Liverpool attacked. The scoreline flattered to deceive as City had their fair share of chances and possession, but Liverpool on the day were the more clinical team and deserved the 3 points.
Manchester City have already lost three games this season and it looks like their intense style of play is catching up with them. They have lost some key players to injury so they will be hoping for their speedy return to bolster their challenge for the title.
Liverpool, on the other hand, have been cruising this season, dropping points in only the draw which came against Manchester United and winning all their other games in the league thus far. They have dominated some games, they have even snatched some wins and overall they look like a champion team who are impossible to beat. It's still a long season and injuries can occur. It is about maintaining that high. A dip in form can always occur but for Liverpool, it's about limiting the damage and continuing to put pressure on rival teams.
It has been an intense rivalry so far between Klopp and Pep. Pep has had more success in terms of trophies, whereas Klopp has won more of the individual battles. Currently, it is advantage Liverpool with a 9-point lead over City in the league, and this just could be the year where Klopp officially claims the Premier League crown.