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Manchester City vs Liverpool Rivalry: Last Decade Review

  Administrator November 24, 2023


Tensions tend to spill over whenever Jurgen Klopp's side meet Pep Guardiola's men, and Saturday's top-of-the-table clash will be no different.

Manchester City versus Liverpool has been the standout rivalry in English football over the last decade, and in the last five years, it has been the top rivalry in Europe too, even surpassing El Clasico in terms of quality of football, star names, tension, and drama. The two rivals have contested three enthralling title races and one unforgettable Champions League tie, and when it comes to entertainment, the fixture almost never disappoints. After more than seven months apart, these most intimate of enemies meet once more at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, and they do so once again as title rivals, separated by just one point at the top of the Premier League table. It is a clash of styles, a meeting of the two longest-running and smartest coaches in the league and two sets of supporters who have grown to despise and respect each other in equal measure

Top 10 moments in history that turned an old rivalry into the greatest spectacle in the sport...


April 2014: Inception of the Modern Rivalry

Although City and Liverpool had never been close allies, the rivalry began to crystallize during the 2013-14 season when Brendan Rodgers' team unexpectedly vied for the title, giving their north-west counterparts a formidable challenge. The pivotal top-of-the-table clash at Anfield laid the groundwork for the intense feelings and tension that would characterize the following decade. Thousands of fans gathered to welcome Liverpool's bus, creating an electric atmosphere at Anfield. Amidst a nine-game winning streak, the Reds extended it to ten in dramatic fashion, racing to a 2-0 lead, only to see it slip away in a mere five minutes. However, Philippe Coutinho's late goal restored their lead, and in the jubilant aftermath, Steven Gerrard confidently declared to his teammates on the pitch, "This does not slip." Regrettably, Liverpool did allow their lead to slip away in subsequent weeks. Gerrard's stumble in a defeat to Chelsea and a 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace proved pivotal, effectively handing the title to City on a silver platter. This marked the initial spark of what would evolve into a fervent and enduring rivalry.



July 2015: Sterling Changes Allegiance

The rivalry took a bitter turn in its first significant transfer saga when Manchester City secured the services of Raheem Sterling from Liverpool for a substantial £49 million ($61m), ending months of speculation. The Blues' eagerness to acquire Liverpool's standout young player was no secret, and Sterling added fuel to the fire by granting an unauthorized interview to the BBC. In this interview, he attempted to clarify his decision not to renew his contract with the Merseysiders, asserting that his motivation was driven solely by a desire to win trophies rather than financial gain. Sterling indeed realized his trophy ambitions at City, clinching numerous silverware, including four Premier League titles, two of which were won at the expense of his former club, Liverpool.


November 2015: Klopp's Impact in Manchester

Merely a month into his tenure as Liverpool's coach, Jurgen Klopp faced City for the first time in the 2014-15 season, leaving no doubt by the end of the match that the Reds' new manager was crafting something extraordinary on Merseyside. Liverpool surged to a remarkable 3-0 lead at the Etihad Stadium, catching City off guard with a blitzkrieg-style of football. An early Eliaquim Mangala's own goal in the seventh minute set Liverpool in motion, followed by strikes from the Brazilian duo of Roberto Firmino and Coutinho, placing the visitors in a euphoric state. Although Sergio Aguero managed to pull one back for the shell-shocked hosts before half-time, Liverpool held firm and ultimately completed the rout through the unexpected source of Martin Skrtel. This victory disrupted City's promising start to the season, and they ultimately fell far behind the pace set by the surprise champions, Leicester City. While Liverpool experienced an inconsistent season overall, they had already set a significant marker and provided their neighbors with a glimpse of things to come.

January 2018: Dominant Reds Halt City's Unbeaten Streak

It took Pep Guardiola a second season to synchronize his City side, and their formidable form appeared unstoppable as they cruised to 20 victories in their initial 22 Premier League games. The title seemed all but secured, and they even seemed poised to emulate Arsenal as the first team to conclude a season unbeaten.

However, their unbeaten run came to an end against Liverpool, seeking redemption for their earlier 5-0 defeat, in a thrilling 4-3 encounter at Anfield. Despite Guardiola's side swiftly recovering and resuming their title pursuit, the outcome signaled that the coach had encountered his team's Achilles' heel.

April 2018: Champions League Theatrics and Bus Vandalism


City entered the all-English Champions League quarter-final tie as favorites, but once again, they succumbed to the intense atmosphere of Anfield, renowned for its unforgettable European nights.

The hosts were already charged up well before kick-off, and the spectacle began with the arrival of the team buses at the stadium. Liverpool's coach was welcomed with chants of 'Allez Allez' and billowing red smoke, energizing their players. In stark contrast, City's bus faced flying bottles that smashed its door.

On the pitch, Liverpool surged from the start, overwhelming Guardiola's side. Goals from Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Sadio Mane within the first half-hour secured a comfortable 3-0 victory. The Reds continued their dominance at the Etihad Stadium, clinching a 2-1 win and sealing a resounding 5-1 aggregate triumph. Despite City's dominance domestically, this encounter served as a stark reminder that Europe belonged to Liverpool.

"City were streets ahead of everyone in the league, but they come to Anfield and they couldn’t handle it," remarked Jamie Carragher. "I think it’s something special about Liverpool. It’s that mentality; a team may be better, but they aren’t having it easy here, no way. It can be a nightmare, even for the best teams."

January 2019: Stones' Dramatic 11mm Clearance


In the riveting 2018-19 season, City and Liverpool engaged in an extraordinary two-horse title race, with Guardiola's side concluding on 98 points and Liverpool narrowly trailing at 97.

Liverpool's sole defeat that season occurred in a 2-1 match against City at the Etihad Stadium, a game forever etched in memory for John Stones' heroic clearance from Mohamed Salah. In a mere 17 minutes, the defender scrambled the ball off the goal line, preventing it from crossing by a mere 11 millimeters and denying Liverpool the lead.

Had the ball crossed the line, City might have still turned the game around. However, the image of the ball, mostly over the line but not entirely, has become a lasting icon in Premier League folklore. It symbolized the minuscule margins separating the two rivals, ultimately contributing to City winning the league and extending Liverpool's agonizing wait for a title.

November 2019: Sterling and Gomez Clash Spills into England Camp


The intensity of the rivalry between City and Liverpool reached a point where it overflowed into the England national team. Just days after Liverpool's 3-1 victory over City, the national team convened at St George's Park for European Championship qualifiers, and tensions lingered as Sterling and Joe Gomez confronted each other in the canteen.

Following an altercation at the end of the game, Sterling pushed Gomez, resulting in a minor scratch on the latter's face. England coach Gareth Southgate took decisive action, sending Sterling home and sidelining him for the next two matches, even as the City forward issued an apology for the incident.

This clash highlighted the depth of animosity between the two teams, illustrating that the tension between opponents doesn't always confine itself to the pitch. Sometimes, it leaves a lasting impact on the realm of international football.

April 2022: A Thrilling Title Showdown

In a remarkable recurrence, Liverpool and City found themselves embroiled in another tightly contested title race, marking the second time in four years. The highly anticipated clash at the Etihad Stadium was hyped as a potential title-deciding match, and it lived up to expectations as the teams battled to a gripping 2-2 draw.

While the game didn't conclusively determine the title race, the teams were separated by a mere point heading into the final day of the season. City ultimately secured the title once again with a victory over Aston Villa, courtesy of a late show by Ilkay Gundogan.

The encounter showcased the Premier League at its pinnacle, with a palpable sense of mutual respect prevailing between Klopp and Guardiola throughout. Interestingly, some pundits expressed concerns that the rivalry might be losing its edge due to the harmonious relationship between the two managers and the players.

October 2022: Rivalry Takes a Dark Turn

However, any notion of an amicable understanding between the two clubs was abruptly shattered when they faced each other the following season in a contentious match at Anfield.

Prior to the game, Klopp stirred controversy by asserting in a press conference that City, due to their financial support from the state of Abu Dhabi, were among three clubs that "can do what they want." City responded by briefing that they perceived Klopp's comments as bordering on xenophobia, an accusation Klopp vehemently denied.

The match, clinched by Liverpool with a late goal from Salah, unfolded in a tumultuous atmosphere. Guardiola experienced coins thrown at him by certain home fans, and City's bus was subjected to an attack as it departed Anfield. Regrettably, some City fans exhibited reprehensible behavior, engaging in graffiti and singing songs that mocked the Hillsborough and Heysel tragedies.

April 2023: City Dominates Rivals on the Path to the Treble


Liverpool, seemingly tired from the previous season's title race, struggled to a fifth-placed finish, failing to secure a spot in the Champions League for the first time in six years. Meanwhile, City, displaying enhanced strength, set their sights on a treble.

In their league encounter, despite missing Erling Haaland, City quickly took control after Salah initially gave Liverpool the lead. They secured a commanding 4-1 victory, with standout performances from Stones and Jack Grealish.

Even in the absence of their prolific goal scorer, City effortlessly dismissed Liverpool, reaffirming their supremacy in the rivalry. However, the question remains whether they will maintain the same stature come Saturday afternoon.

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