5 defining battles in Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp's Man City vs Liverpool rivalry

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Manchester City prepare to welcome Liverpool for what has been billed as the Premier League title showdown at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday in the latest instalment of the fascinating Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp rivalry.

At one stage in early February, Guardiola’s side were 13 points clear of Liverpool and appeared to be sure-fire favourites to secure their fourth domestic title under the Catalan. But the Reds have gone on a storming 10-game winning run to close the gap to just one point.

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It is certainly not the first rodeo between Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, with two of the world’s finest coaches butting heads in each of the last four seasons for the title. And with it, the pair have overseen some incredible tactical battles over the years — Mirror Football looks back on five of the most memorable clashes between the two bosses.

Man City 5-0 Liverpool — September 9, 2017

Still getting to grips with English football, Guardiola knew that a victory over Liverpool would be crucial if his side were to mount a title challenge after watching Chelsea cruise to the title in 2016-17.

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But few would have expected a scoreline as dominant as this. The hosts were already a goal to the good when Sadio Mane was brandished a controversial red card for a high kick on goalkeeper Ederson — and City put their 10-men opponents to the sword.

After Sergio Aguero’s opener, Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane piled on the misery, helping themselves to a brace each, to condemn Klopp to his worst defeat as Liverpool manager. City went on to dominant the league and reach a record 100 points — some 25 ahead of Liverpool in fourth.

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5 defining battles in Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp's Man City vs Liverpool rivalry

Sadio Mane was sent off as Liverpool were crushed 5-0 by Man City

Have Your Say! Which will team will go on to win the title – Man City or Liverpool? Comment below.

Liverpool 4-3 Man City — January 14, 2018

Revenge is sweet, especially when you can deny your rival something that they had never previously achieved. And for Liverpool, that would have been stopping City going for Arsenal ’s unbeaten record.

Armed with an in-form Mohamed Salah and new £75m signing Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool looked transformed as they played the ball around at a fast pace. To the surprise of no one, it was the Reds’ frightening front three of Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino who scored a goal apiece in the space of nine second-half minutes.

Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan ensured a grandstand finish with goals in the final six minutes. But it was too little, too late from Guardiola’s men, although they would have the last laugh by sealing the title in early April.

Liverpool 3-0 Man City — April 4, 2018

Just a few months after ending City’s unbeaten run, Liverpool also crushed their rivals’ Champions League hopes with a 3-0 win on a memorable night at Anfield.

Klopp’s men came racing out of the blocks and scored three first-half goals from Salah, Mane and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put the tie beyond doubt. The Reds had won 2-1 at the Etihad in the first leg and that was enough to give them a buffer to play with confidence in front of their own fans.

Liverpool went on to reach the final after beating Roma in the last four, but two critical errors from Loris Karius would cost them dearly as Real Madrid strolled to a 3-1 success. After that, Klopp signed Alisson Becker — and the Merseyside club have looked as strong as they have ever been.

Man City 2-1 Liverpool — January 3, 2019

Man City knew that their genuine title challengers were no longer Manchester United or Chelsea but their north-west rivals Liverpool. So to claim the narrowest of victories midway through the season would have been a huge statement of intent.

For Liverpool, a win would have sent them 10 points clear. But City seemed to want it more when Aguero put them ahead, only for Firmino to equalise. Sane’s goal put the hosts back in front, but the drama would arrive later in the game when John Stones’ clearance denied Mane a dramatic equaliser.

Goal-line technology later underlined just how close the forward had come to levelling up the score, with the ball evading the threshold for a goal by 1.12cm. Not even an inch. But in football, the finest margins can prove to be the most important and, as Liverpool’s form fell away, City went on to clinch the title by a single point.

5 defining battles in Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp's Man City vs Liverpool rivalry

John Stones' goal-line clearance made the difference in the end as Man City clinched the title by a single point

Liverpool 3-1 Man City, November 10, 2019

Having lost out by a point the season prior, nothing was going to keep Liverpool from claiming their first Premier League title and first domestic triumph since 1990. And their crucial win over City early in the campaign was pivotal to their chances.

Fabinho and Salah hit a quick-fire double to give Liverpool a massive advantage early on and Mane added a third later on. Bernardo Silva clawed one back but it was merely a consolation as Guardiola and Klopp clashed over referee decisions that ultimately went Liverpool’s way.

But the German didn’t care. That win put them eight points clear after only eight games in the late-starting season, which had been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Even without the passionate Anfield faithful to cheer them on, Klopp’s side rallied to finally end 30 years of hurt.

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