We have a title race on our hands! With Manchester City dropping points after a goalless draw against Crystal Palace, the Premier League is wide open. There were times over a busy festive period where the league looked at a foregone conclusion, with Pep Guardiola’s side squeezing past Brentford to extend their lead to 14 points in early January. However, with games in hand, new signings, and a relentless will to win, Liverpool has closed the gap and will be crowned champions should they win all of their remaining 10 games.
While destiny is now out of Guardiola’s control, Liverpool still has to go to the Etihad in what is shaping up to be a grudge match for the title. It’s proving increasingly difficult to pick a winner on the football betting market, with this being the second time the two teams have gone down to the wire in the Premier League. But how do these sides compare to that first thrilling title race back in the 2018-19 season? Read on, as we look at the differences between both City and Liverpool’s current crops compared to their sides from three years ago.
Manchester City – 2021-22
The unpredictability of the Premier League is what separates it from the rest of Europe. At times during the start of the season, it looked tough for the current champions. Losing on an opening day to Tottenham Hotspur was hardly ideal, and missing out on Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo left them with no real striker following Sergio Agüero’s departure.
Even with no recognized number nine — with the exception of Gabriel Jesus who has found game time hard to come by — Guardiola’s possession-based system has ensured City has kept on top, winning games by passing teams to death. We’d say their teams of the past are slightly stronger though, with their recent draw at Selhurst Park exemplifying their issues. They simply struggle to break down a low block at times, something that could come back to bite them at the end of the season.
Manchester City – 2018-19
After being dubbed ‘The Centurions’ the season before, and amassing 100 points en route to a league and cup double, you would have assumed City would burn out at some point in the 2018-19 season, but bar a slight dip over Christmas, in which they dropped points to Crystal Palace and Leicester City, Guardiola’s side were almost perfect. They needed to win all 13 of their last games to win the title, similar circumstances to Liverpool this season and did exactly that — albeit thanks to some questionable officiating away at Burnley and a Vincent Kompany thunderbolt in the return fixture against Leicester. City were champions on the final day and won their customary League Cup as icing on the cake.
Since there’s so much of the season left to play for, one can only imagine how far this current Liverpool side can go. Last season was overshadowed by injury, but with his best players available this time around, Jürgen Klopp has built a side capable of competing on all fronts. The Reds have lost just three times in all competitions this season and although many feared their squad depth would prove costly, the addition of Luis Díaz from Porto has put nerves at ease. The Colombian looks like the missing piece of the puzzle and suits Klopp’s intense style so much. Success in the League Cup against Chelsea last month could well be just the beginning, with the quadruple still possible at Anfield this season.
Liverpool – 2018-19
Liverpool fans often wonder, had Glenn Murray’s goal for Brighton been decisive on the final day of the season, and the Reds ended up winning both the league title and Champions League if they’d be regarded as the best club side ever. Amassing 97 points, their record for a season at the time, Klopp’s side was tenacious and developed a habit of scoring late goals, with Divock Origi stealing the headlines in the derby against Everton and to rescue a win against Newcastle United on the penultimate week.
That side was more defensively sound, shipping just 24 goals all season and having Virgil Van Dijk in his prime. The Dutchman enjoyed a campaign to remember and was a man of the match as Liverpool beat Spurs to win a sixth European Cup. While the league title may have eluded them, Klopp’s side would be back next season to win it in style, 99 points and winning 26 of their first 27 games.