The Pressure Gauge: Liverpool and Manchester City set for title showdown

Bernardo Silva Roberto Firmino Manchester City Liverpool UEFA Champions League
Shaun Botterill
The two sides meet at Anfield on Sunday in a fixture that could help define the first genuine Premier League title race in years

"Liverpool scare me," said Pep Guardiola in the All or Nothing documentary. "They're dangerous, I mean it."

Pep, of course, was right to be scared. Liverpool blew his Premier League champions-elect to bits in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie at Anfield, adding a 3-0 victory to their 4-3 league win over the Citizens.

City would not recover from that Champions League defeat as Liverpool marched on to the final. City did, however, respond in the Premier League, strolling to the title with 100 points and over 100 goals.

Jurgen Klopp’s side had come together too late to mount a serious title challenge. This season, however, their time is supposed to be coming, with the Premier League braced for its first proper title race in years. 

The two sides come into Sunday’s epic on Merseyside locked on 19 points at the top of the table. And hosts Liverpool have the opportunity to make a statement.

After all, they are unbeaten in 17 home matches against Man City in all competitions (W12 D5) since losing 2-1 at Anfield in the Premier League in May 2003.

They are also unbeaten in their last 24 home league games, the longest current run in the Premier League (W16 D8).

Moreover, they haven’t lost any of their last 13 Premier League home games against fellow ‘big six’ sides (W6 D7), since losing 0-1 against Manchester United in January 2016.

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And then, of course, Guardiola has lost more matches in all competitions against Jurgen Klopp (7) than he has against any other manager, losing three times against Borussia Dortmund and four times against Liverpool.

Defeat on Sunday would see Pep lose three consecutive away games to the same opposition for the first time in his career. 

But are this Liverpool the same side that we saw at the tail end of last term? New faces arrived to bolster a squad that lacked depth, but their flying forward-line of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah are yet to match their heights of last season.

The full-backs appear to have stopped overlapping so readily, too, which has appears to have restricted Salah and Mane in particular.

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Liverpool also arrive following a week of attrition, after seven days that brought two defeats and a draw in all competitions.

City, meanwhile, have lost only one of their last 25 Premier League away matches (W20 D4). And while it was in this exact fixture last season (3-4), the reigning champions are in fine form having responded to a UCL defeat to Lyon with four consecutive victories.

Liverpool and Klopp have proved a thorn in Pep’s side, then, but Guardiola has made a career of breaking records. And he will be convinced his side can end that of Klopp and Liverpool over his Manchester City. 

The stakes are high. The pressure is on.

The Goal Pressure Index is presented by Sure, Official Partner of Chelsea FC, Everton FC and Manchester City FC. Join the conversation on Twitter @Sure.