Man City vs Liverpool no game for the faint-hearted as blossoming rivalry reaches fever pitch ahead of title decider

PEP GUARDIOLA compared the Manchester City-Liverpool rivalry to ‘El Clasico’ in his native Spain earlier this week.

And Sunday’s title showdown at the Etihad is as gripping as anything Real Madrid and Barcelona have served up in Spain in recent years.

Manchester City and Liverpool will collide in an epic title decider on SundayCredit: GETTY

The Etihad showdown could very well decide the destination of the Premier League trophy

The Etihad showdown could very well decide the destination of the Premier League trophyCredit: AFP

And City boss Pep Guardiola recently likened the rivarly between the two sides to El Clasico

And City boss Pep Guardiola recently likened the rivarly between the two sides to El ClasicoCredit: AFP

Since Pep’s first title win in England in 2017, these two clubs have emerged as the dominant forces of English football.

And the signs are that could remain the case for many years to come.

This one should go a long way towards determining whether the trophy ends up decked in blue ribbons or red ones when it is handed out next month.

What should not be a surprise though – is that it will be one or the other.

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While many talked up Chelsea and some even tipped Manchester United at the start of the season, the form book showed both were outsiders.

After all, the current top two have won the last four between them – with City lifting three of those.

What’s more, over the last four seasons, City have won 338 points in the top flight – while Jurgen Klopp’s men have taken 337.

Chelsea have the next most on 264 while Arsenal are almost 100 behind on 241.

In other words, the top two are miles ahead right now – and the rest of the pretenders have to find a way of closing the enormous gap.

What must United fans think right now – as they watch two of their traditional rivals setting new standards and records almost every week while their own team desperately scramble for fourth place.

The home side has traditionally bossed this – City’s dismal record at Anfield dating back over 30 years is well documented.

Yet Liverpool have also struggled at the Etihad – winning just one of their last 12 visits there in the Prem – and that was back in 2015.

There has been no shortage of spice too. For many years these two just had their mutual hatred of United in common and their feelings over each other were indifferent.

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have struck up quite the rivalry

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have struck up quite the rivalryCredit: KEVIN QUIGLEY

But that has changed over the last decade. When City forced their way into the Champions League for the first time in 2011, Liverpool were one of those squeezed out.

They went head-to-head in a classic title race in 2013-14 with City coming out on top – thanks largely to Steven Gerrard’s slip.

Then there was Raheem Sterling’s controversial transfer between the clubs a year later – as he irked the Kop by citing a wish to win more regular silverware.

But the big moment came when City’s bus was attacked by rival fans as it made its way through the streets ahead of the 2018 Champions League quarter-final.

As former captain Vincent Kompany said – that moment changed things.

Kompany said: “The rivalry increased and they were our No1 rivals. Now there was more tension.”

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Since then it has gone up a notch and when City won the league in 2018-19, the fact they beat Klopp’s men by a single point on the final day made it all the sweeter.

Three years on and here we are again. Sunday at the Etihad will be no place for the faint-hearted.

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