Klopp, Guardiola set for Premier League last dance with title at stake

10 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
Klopp, Guardiola set for Premier League last dance with title at stake

The Sunday Mail

JURGEN KLOPP and Pep Guardiola face off for the final time in the Premier League today with the title on the line for two coaches who have defined an era in English football.

Klopp’s Liverpool lead Guardiola’s Manchester City by one point in the latest title tussle between the two clubs since the inspirational managers arrived in the north-west.

The Reds’ first league crown for 30 years in 2020 is the only blip in City’s record of five titles in the past six years.

But twice, Guardiola’s men have won by a solitary point against a Liverpool team that both times amassed more than 90 points.

Klopp is leaving Liverpool at the end of the season and champions City can expect an emotion-fuelled cauldron at Anfield, where even Guardiola has not won in front of fans.

City’s only away league win against Liverpool since 2003 came three years ago behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions.

Despite working with a smaller budget at Liverpool and previously Borussia Dortmund, compared with the backing Guardiola has enjoyed at City and Bayern Munich, Klopp has the better personal head-to-head record.

The German has 12 wins to Guardiola’s 11, with six draws in 29 meetings between the pair.

But despite having the edge, Klopp hailed Guardiola as the stand-out coach of his generation.

“In my lifetime, he’s definitely the outstanding manager,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.  In this moment, I have a positive record against Pep,” he added. “I honestly have no clue how that happened but it is all fine.

“I know I’m quite good at what I’m doing as well. I don’t want to sound like somebody who is happy to be here but you ask me about the best and for me he is the best.”

With contrasting styles, both coaches have rewritten the record books to set new standards in the Premier League.  Six of the nine highest points tallies in Premier League history have come from Liverpool and City over the past six years.  Klopp once described his football as “heavy metal” and his high-energy, pressing game has blended perfectly with the Liverpool support to make Anfield a bear pit for visiting sides.

By contrast, Guardiola’s attention to detail has turned City into a finely tuned symphony orchestra, where the collective system rules.

Liverpool have lost only one home league game in front of a crowd since 2017.

The Reds will need to feed off the fizzing Anfield atmosphere if they are to end City’s 20-match unbeaten run and they are boosted by the return of key players in time for the title run-in.  Mohamed Salah made his return from a hamstring injury off the bench in Thursday’s 5-1 thrashing of Sparta Prague.

Darwin Nunez and Dominik Szoboszlai, both recently returned from injury, were on target in the Czech capital.

However, Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota are among those who are still sidelined.  Alexander-Arnold riled City last week by claiming Liverpool’s trophies won under Klopp “meant more” than Guardiola’s due to Abu Dhabi-backed City’s deep pockets.

Star striker Erling Haaland hit back, boasting about City’s treble triumph of the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup last season, adding that they remain on track to repeat that incredible feat.

City’s next two league games, today away to Liverpool and a visit by third-placed Arsenal on March 31, will go a long way towards deciding the title race. — AFP.

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