Will Liverpool v Manchester City turn out to be title decider?

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola face off for possibly the final time in Premier League

Jurgen Klopp, left, and Pep Guardiola will face each other for possibly the last time in the Premier League when Liverpool host Manchester City on Sunday. Reuters
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Treble winners Manchester City's visit to Liverpool on Sunday is being billed as a match that could well decide who wins the Premier League this season.

In what is set to be a titanic battle between two of the greatest minds in English football, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola face off for, most probably, the final time in the Premier League with the title seemingly on the line.

Klopp's Liverpool (63 points from 27 matches) lead Guardiola's City by one point in the latest title tussle between the two clubs, with Arsenal temporarily at the top following Saturday's 2-1 win over Brentford.

Liverpool's title triumph in 2020 – their first championship win in 30 years – is the only interruption to City's run of five titles in the past six years. Twice Guardiola's City have won the Premier League title by a solitary point ahead of Liverpool. Both times the Reds amassed more than 90 points to push City all the way.

It will be an emotional evening at Anfield as Klopp is set to leave Liverpool at the end of the season.

And while City have been the runaway leaders of English football, winning the league, FA Cup and Champions League last season, Klopp and Liverpool are no pushovers.

In their 29 head-to-head matches, Klopp's teams – Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund – have won 12 and lost 11 against Guardiola's teams – City and Bayern Munich. Six ended in draws.

“In this moment, I just got told now, I have a positive record against Pep. I have no clue how that happened, to be honest,” Klopp said ahead of Sunday's match.

“Pep is the best manager in the world. I have a really good life being not even close to that,” he added.

“I know I’m not bad. But you ask about the best and, for me, he is the best – bam."

The winners on Sunday at Anfield will move top of the Premier League standings, although a draw would leave the door open for Arsenal to get ahead in the title race.

One of the biggest deciding factors of Sunday's match could well be the form of City goal machine Erling Haaland.

Klopp insists Liverpool cannot pin all of their hopes on Virgil van Dijk shutting down Haaland.

The game could see a battle between the irrepressible Haaland – who has 29 goals this season and seven in his last three outings – and the commanding Van Dijk.

But when it comes to City, Klopp believes there is too much quality and too many alternate options to rely on an old-fashioned man-marking exercise.

"Football doesn't work like that any more. If Haaland is not scoring that is good but they have other options to do that," he said.

"If Virgil van Dijk would be able to nullify Haaland then [Phil] Foden fires the ball in from 30 yards into the far corner, or Kevin de Bruyne does exactly the same, or Rodri is arriving, or Bernardo Silva is doing it.

"I don't think for a second like that, that they are playing against each other. Yes, there are moments it definitely will happen, 100 per cent, and hopefully we will be at the better end that, but this football game is about so many aspects."

Meanwhile, Guardiola said he does not believe he is facing Klopp for the final time.

"I don't think so," Guardiola said. "We can play in the FA Cup and the future ... nobody knows. He's young, I'm young, so I don't know."

Guardiola said he was looking forward to what's sure to be a heated clash at Anfield.

"Always was a pleasure and it will be [Sunday] too, so we can do no better than try to win the game," he added.

Updated: March 10, 2024, 5:55 AM