“You’re always looking in the rear-view mirror to see who’s coming behind you and you speed up when you see someone. Arsenal were catching us. And their team was good enough to go above us, there was no question about that.
Sir Alex Ferguson was reflecting on what many consider to be the main competition of the Premier League era. Arsene Wenger has won the Premier League three times in his first eight seasons in English football. Ferguson’s Manchester United claimed the rest.
The 1999 treble-winning campaign came shortly after Wenger’s first title win. The rise of Arsenal has made Manchester United even better.
Yet, throughout that period, there was no season where both sides hit the 80-point mark. In fact, United and Arsenal have done so only once in Premier League history – the year after Thierry Henry left when the Gunners finished third behind Chelsea.
The kind of sustainable excellence Manchester City and Liverpool are now serving is unprecedented. There is an argument that this is now the biggest competition in the Premier League.
Some would point to the greater wealth inequality that now exists but this is only a partial explanation – it is not responsible for the gulf they have opened up to other elite clubs.
Since the summer of 2018, the overall points of Manchester City and Liverpool have stood at 338 and 337, respectively. Next on the list is Chelsea – 63 points behind.
The gap in the Epic 2018/19 title race was third from 25 points and 15 points while in 2020/21 Liverpool won rather more comfortably. The rest of the lead is already at 10 points this season and knowing any slip will be costly they are likely to widen further as they go into the run-in.
As it stands, Liverpool are on track for a second-highest point total by a team ranked second in Premier League history – behind their total of 97 points in 2018/19.
“In the last four seasons – we haven’t been in almost a year because of our problems and we’ve had some fights – but before a crazy competition,” Jurgen Klopp said recently.
Jamie Carragher says these are the best two teams in the history of the Premier League – and the best two in Europe right now – and it’s hard to disagree.
Liverpool did not win the Premier League title in 2019 – they had to settle for the Champions League – but their relentless pursuit for Manchester City claimed that Pep Guardiola’s side had won their last 14 games to claim the title. Somehow they did it.
They are pushing each other to such heights that they could not reach alone.
Two-time Olympic decathlon champion Daly Thompson once famously said he trained twice on Christmas Day because his rivals could only train once and that would give him the edge. There are examples of people pushing competition across the sport.
Pete Sampras, a 14-time Grand Slam winner, says Andre Agassi forced him to be better. Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic’s triptych have taken each other to a level of superiority that has never been seen before in a men’s game.
“I’m sure Roger and Novak have made me a better player,” Nadal said. “And I’ve made them better.”
If there’s one thing missing from a three-way tennis tournament, it’s personal animosity. Exercisingly opposing characters can give the competition its edge. This is why some in that play miss the theater of rivalry between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.
In the Premier League, Manchester City and Liverpool era, Cesc Fabregas was not imagined throwing pizza, shouting in the face of Martin Quinn’s Ruud van Nistelroy or a tunnel bust-up between Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane.
“It became toxic for a while,” Ferguson said.
It is a rivalry that promotes both sides rather than exploding.
Guardiola knows that rivalry can be toxic. In La Liga, Jose Mourinho’s jibes turned into a physical confrontation between then-Real Madrid coach and Guardiola assistant Tito Villanova. This challenge has been on the pitch.
“Liverpool are the toughest opponents I’ve faced in my 12 or 13 years as a manager,” said Guardiola. “Hopefully we can say that we are painful for Liverpool as well.”
“It’s a good description and it should be,” said the Liverpool boss. “We’re pushing each other and that’s the way it is and it keeps you going. There is no chance of being a little soft because someone else will come and catch you right away. “
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. But on the pitch itself, there were probably no other two good teams in the Premier League.
Man City vs. Liverpool: Nev, Cara, Keane and Richards in the studio
Manchester City’s huge fight against Liverpool in the Premier League Super SundaySurvival Sky Sports.
At the top of the table, currently separating Champions City and Liverpool by just one point, the result could have a big impact on the title race.
Coverage at Etihad Stadium begins at 4 p.m. Sky Sports Premier League And The main eventWith kick-off at 4.30pm.
There will be a bumper line up Sky Sports With studio Gary Neville, Jamie Carrager, Roy Kin And Mika Richards Everyone present.
Here’s how to watch and follow the game Sky SportsA