We are approaching unprecedented levels of Premier League exotica. The arrival of the most exciting striker in world football, Erling Haaland, represents a real Galactico moment for the Premier League. He may have been a much-hyped flop, yet Manchester City’s blondness is quite felt in the opening weekend of the season.
One of the interesting features of the new campaign is how Pep Guardiola integrates Hollande into the City machinery. Jack Grealish arrived twice a year ago with bells and whistles for money and struggled to impose his game on the city’s aesthetic. Haaland is a less complicated box of moves, and a monster in the six yard box. However, it has a turn comparable to that of an aircraft carrier, and will force the city to make some tactical adjustments that may take time to bear fruit.
For good measure, Liverpool, the Premier League’s other power hub, balance City’s star takeover with Darwin Nunez, who compared Haaland when netting with a diving header during Charity Shield’s win over City a week earlier. There were more Haalands visible. ‘Darwin Nez’ to English ears seems to gather the underlying threads of perceived South American superiority, driven by the catchy phonetics of the Uruguayan nomenclature.
Charity Shield was billed as a contest between the two. It was always going to be more than this, as the Premier League would be. Yet Nez’s strike and a late Haaland against the bar captured the dynamic between the teams and set the tone for the season.
While their top six rivals are plugging holes, City and Liverpool are renewing their squads. City have lost the versatile Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal, with Liverpool selling Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich. Although the latter is a major loss, Liverpool have heavyweight cover in Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota. City are busy trying to buy the left back, but in the scheme of things Guardiola will hardly be uncomfortable with the opportunistic steal of City target Mark Cucurella by Chelsea, a move that creates a sense of panic not planning.
Since Guardiola’s arrival in the summer of 2016, seven months after Jurgen Klopp replaced Brendan Rogers at Anfield, City and Liverpool have amassed more than 500 Premier League points, scoring 536/508 points each. Chelsea, who have had four coaches in the same period, are the closest challengers with 442 points in the past six seasons. The smarts of Antonio Conte, who started the period at Chelsea, and the horrors of Ralph Rangnick have propelled Spurs to fourth on the six-year table with 426 points, 12 ahead of Manchester United. Arsenal are out of the top six with 394 points.
While the four below are banging heads on Champions League places, by no means anyone has been able to upset the era’s double between City and Liverpool, which are only one point apart over the past four seasons. Only in 2019/2020 when Liverpool closed the 30-year gap between titles, and the following season when Virgil van Dijk topped a crippling list of injuries, did the two separate themselves by a wide margin. In 2017/18, when Klopp’s powerful vision first bore full force, and in his last stint, City led both campaigns by that most modest measure, one point.
Of all the rivalries at the top level of English football, none have matched it for intensity and scale. The city is simply dismissed as an arrival. Until United went on to win the European Cup in 1968 a decade after the Munich tragedy, and Liverpool monkeyed in the 70s, losses for the Red Dynasties had never been so great. The coveted loss reached its nadir in 1999, when United scored twice in injury time to win the European Cup, while City forced extra time four days later, with three minutes remaining of the play-off final. While living, Gillingham was forced to drop down to two, and eventually gained promotion from the third tier of English football.
Run by the Abu Dhabi State Fund, City have completely transformed the image and status of English football under Guardiola’s visionary direction. It is to Klopp’s eternal credit that Liverpool have somehow fashioned a response, highlighting the equally mesmerizing brand of football by applying money-ball metrics to the max. The inclusion of Diaz in January and Nunez in early summer is an example of a club working at a very organizational peak.
Liverpool face United at Old Trafford in a fortnight, always a tribal fixture to enjoy, and Chelsea in September, but it is the first meeting of the season between Klopp and Guardiola at Anfield in October that has become the game’s final reference point. happened. Choose a winner at your own risk.