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Klopp vs Guardiola: Key Battles of Two Premier League Giants

As Jürgen Klopp’s tenure at Anfield is approaching its end, memorable clashes with Guardiola’s Man City remain in the annals of Premier League history. 

Before flaming the modern mid-2010s rivalry between Manchester City and Liverpool, which spanned almost a decade, they were in close competition for the domestic championship in the 1976-77 season. Bob Paisley made the cut as a successful replacement for Bill Shankly and Liverpool won the title race that year.

Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola’s simultaneous presence in England turned into what seems to be a game-changer. Since 2018, most domestic trophies have been shared between Manchester City and Liverpool. They have won 18 titles in a period of seven years to dominate the English football scene. Also, out of the eight teams that have collected the most points in a single season since the Premier League became a 20-team competition in 1995, six of them have been either Manchester City or Liverpool. Fans always awaited with bells on to see head-to-head clashes between Pep and Klopp in the Premier League.

Crucial Guardiola and Klopp Clashes in the Premier League

Photo via Getty Images

Manchester City and Liverpool faced each other for the first time during the reign of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp on December 31, 2016, at Anfield, with Liverpool winning 1-0. In an eight-year period, they have met 16 times in the Premier League, with Manchester City winning five times and Liverpool winning four. The host suffered defeat only once, which happened during an empty Anfield stadium amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, we will review the most significant encounters between these two teams in the Premier League during the Pep-Klopp era.

Man City 5-0 Liverpool, 9 September 2017

Photo via SkySports

Pep Guardiola’s first win with Manchester City against Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool in the Premier League. A win that showed the Citizens were the most dominant team in the league and could start a new era in England under Pep.

Manchester City did not succeed in the first season under Pep Guardiola. They strengthened their defense in the summer with the purchases of Ederson, Kyle Walker, and Benjamin Mendy. Additionally, they added Bernardo Silva from Monaco to their midfield assets. Liverpool also made significant signings like Mohamed Salah, Andrew Robertson, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to push for contention.

The two teams met in the fourth week when both had seven points. Liverpool had beaten Arsenal 4-0 the previous week, while Man City had won their game by a little margin. The host started better and Sergio Agüero put them ahead in the 24th minute. Thirteen minutes later, Sadio Mané was sent off for a foul on Ederson, making Liverpool’s hopes of a comeback slim. With Liverpool down to ten men, the game was one-sided. Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sané each scored two goals as City won 5-0.

This win was the starting point for City’s dominance that season. They won their next 16 league games and, before January they were considered champions of the league by everyone. At the end of the season, Man City became the first team to win the Premier League with a hundred points.

Liverpool 4-3 Man City, 14 January 2018

Photo via Getty Images by John Powell

Manchester City’s first defeat in the 2017-2018 season. This game hinted that Liverpool could be a competitor to Man City in the coming years.

Manchester City arrived in Liverpool having lost only 4 points in the league up to that point. Liverpool also had been in good form and hadn’t lost in the previous 13 Premier League games. Additionally, they were unbeaten at Anfield in all competitions this season and aimed to avenge their 5-0 loss in the first leg.

Liverpool took the lead in the 9th minute with Chamberlain’s goal. However, Leroy Sané equalized in the 40th minute and the first half ended 1-1. Early in the second half, the hosts scored 3 goals in a ten-minute flurry through Firmino, Mané, and Salah to go 4-1 ahead. Salah’s large-range goal came from a mistake by Ederson. In the final minutes of the game, the visitors reduced the deficit through Bernardo Silva and İlkay Gündoğan. However, Liverpool held on to their lead to win the seven-goal thriller.

Beating the league’s strongest team boosted Liverpool’s confidence. They finished the season in fourth place above Chelsea and Arsenal with good performances. Additionally, in the Champions League quarter-finals, Liverpool eliminated City, who were serious contenders for the title, with a 3-0 win at Anfield and a 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium. The Reds reached the UCL final but lost to Real Madrid.

Man City 2-1 Liverpool, 3 January 2019

Photo via thisisanfield

Liverpool were seven points ahead of Manchester City and knew that a win at the Etihad could practically decide the title race. Meanwhile, the hosts, having conceded the top spot to the Reds with three losses in December, were only aiming for a victory.

The game was intense in the first half. Liverpool had their best chance to take the lead through Sadio Mané, but John Stones cleared the ball off the line. In the 40th minute, Citizen’s attacks paid off, and Aguero scored the opening goal. In the second half, Roberto Firmino equalized for Liverpool in the 64th minute, but eight minutes later, Leroy Sané restored Man City’s lead with a precise shot past Alisson. With this 2-1 victory against their rivals, the defending champions reduced the points gap at the top of the table to four points.

This game was key to Man City’s comeback in the title race. They won their last 14 league games to clinch the Premier League title with 98 points. That season was the best in Manchester City’s history up to that moment. They also won the FA Cup and the EFL Cup.

On the other hand, this was the only defeat for Jurgen Klopp’s side in the Premier League that season. Despite winning their last 9 games and earning 97 points, they finished second in the League. This is the highest points total achieved by a runner-up team in the Premier League so far. Liverpool ended the season by winning the Champions League, defeating Tottenham in the final.

Liverpool 3-1 Man City, 10 November 2019

Photo via Getty Images

Before this match, Liverpool was leading the Premier League table with six points ahead of Manchester City. Except for a draw at Old Trafford, they had won all their other games and were considered the strongest team in Europe. Meanwhile, Man City didn’t have their usual strength, especially in defense, where they showed many weaknesses.

The hosts started the game strongly, and Fabinho scored the opening goal in the sixth minute. Seven minutes later, Mohamed Salah doubled their lead to make it tougher for the defending champs. At the beginning of the second half, Sadio Mané scored Liverpool’s third goal to put a nail in the Citizen’s coffin. Bernardo Silva’s goal in the 78th minute didn’t change much, and Liverpool defeated Manchester City 3-1.

That season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was suspended from March 13th to June 17th. However, Liverpool continued their good form in that season to break their title drought in the league after 30 years. The Reds ended the season as champions with 99 points, just one point shy of Man City’s record of 100 points. This was their first Premier League title.

Liverpool set numerous records that season. Their most significant record was having a 25-point lead over the second-placed team at one point. The Reds also matched the record of 32 wins, including 18 consecutive home wins and 18 consecutive wins, which Manchester City previously held.

Liverpool 1-4 Man City, 7 February 2021

Photo via Getty Images

The only loss for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. The match, however, was held without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lacked the usual excitement.

Manchester City, who hadn’t started the season well, turned things around with nine consecutive wins from mid-December and climbed to the top of the Premier League table. On the other hand, Liverpool faced numerous injuries. Despite starting well and ending 2020 on top, they dropped to fourth place with poor results in January.

The first half ended 0-0 as the best chance was a missed penalty by Ilkay Gundogan. In the start of the second half, Gundo redeemed himself by putting Man City ahead. Then, Salah equalized for Liverpool in the 63rd minute from the penalty spot. The visitors were superior thereafter. They scored three more goals through Gundogan, Sterling, and Foden in a span of ten minutes to win the game 4-1, marking one of Liverpool’s heaviest defeats at Anfield.

Liverpool didn’t have their usual strength that season without their fans. They experienced six consecutive home defeats during that period, unprecedented in their history. However, their late-season victories helped them secure a place in the UEFA Champions League. Manchester City won the title at the end of the season with a 12-point gap ahead of Man Utd. While the Citizens reached the UEFA Champions League final for the first time, they were defeated by Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea.

Man City 2-2 Liverpool, 10 April 2022

Photo via EPA

Three years after the 2018-2019 season, Manchester City and Liverpool experienced fierce competition for the Premier League title again. The match took place with only eight games remaining in the season, and Manchester City led the table with a one-point difference from Liverpool.

The hosts made a good start, and they took the lead through Kevin De Bruyne in the 5th minute. Eight minutes later, Diogo Jota equalized for Liverpool. In the remainder of the first half, Manchester City dominated the play and they scored through Gabriel Jesus in the 36th minute to go 2-1 up. At the start of the second half, Sadio Mane leveled the match with his run behind Man City’s defenders. The match was of high quality, with both teams having opportunities to win. However, no more goals were scored, and the result of the first leg game was repeated in the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City maintained their one-point lead until the end of the season and won the title with 93 points. In a dramatic final matchday, while trailing 2-0 against Aston Villa, the Citizens made a comeback in five minutes to defend their Premier League title.

Liverpool also had one of their most successful seasons. They had won both the EFL Cup and FA Cup and could have won all four possible trophies by the end of the season. Though, they finished as runners-up in the Champions League after losing to Real Madrid, leaving them empty-handed from both major trophies.

Man City 4-1 Liverpool, 1 April 2023

Photo via Football365

Manchester City faced a tough competition against Arsenal for their third consecutive Premier League title. Prior to Matchweek 29, they were seven points behind their rival with one game in hand. Meanwhile, Liverpool experienced their worst season under Jurgen Klopp, sitting in eighth place.

The visitors took the lead against the run of play in the 17th minute with Salah’s goal, making it 1-0. Ten minutes later, Julian Alvarez leveled the game and the first half ended 1-1. Early in the second half, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan scored two goals for the hosts to assert City’s dominance in the result. Finally, in the 74th minute, Jack Grealish scored City’s fourth goal to complete his excellent performance. This match was one of Pep Guardiola’s team’s best displays against Liverpool.

Continuing their momentum and defeating Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City went to the top and ultimately clinched the Premier League title for the third consecutive time. They defeated their city rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup final and won the Champions League final against Inter Milan. This season marked Pep’s best season with Man City, making them the second English team to achieve a treble.

Liverpool improved their form later in the season. However, they finished fifth in the Premier League table, missing out on qualifying for the next season’s Champions League.

Liverpool 1-1 Man City, 10 March 2024

Photo via Getty Images

The last encounter between Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp in the Premier League. The German coach had announced weeks earlier that he would leave Liverpool at the end of the season. This season, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Arsenal set one of the most intriguing title races in Premier League history.

Before this match, Liverpool was leading the table with one more point than Manchester City, and Arsenal was in second place with a one-point difference. The visitors started the game better and scored from a corner kick. John Stones with his well-placed shot found the net to put the Citizens ahead 1-0.

At the beginning of the second half, Ederson’s foul on Darwin Nunez led to a penalty which Alexis McAllister converted to make the game level. Throughout the rest of the game, the home team had better chances, but the match ended 1-1. Therefore, the last battle between Pep and Klopp was without a winner.

In the same week, Arsenal won their game to join Liverpool at the top of the table, one point ahead of Man City. The competition among these three teams for the Premier League title continues.

Alex Lundy
Alex Lundy
A lifelong football fan, Alex loves to dabble in its history, especially FIFA World Cup. But his love for sports doesn't end at football since he loves watching NBA and Formula1 too. Reading novels and watching classic films takes the rest of his time.
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