- Newly-crowned Premier League champions Liverpool travel to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City on Thursday evening
- Reds crowned inaugural champions last week after Chelsea beat Pep Guardiola’s men 2-1 at Stamford Bridge
- Meeting heralds potential new era of domination on Merseyside
PREMIER LEAGUE – As Manchester City welcome newly-crowed champions Liverpool on Thursday, could the clash signal a greater changing of the Premier League hierarchy?
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It was a moment every Liverpool fan had dreamt of. As Chelsea landed the latest and decisive blow on Manchester City’s Premier League campaign with a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge, the Citizens’ reign as champions came to shattering, if impending end.
Queue scenes of delirium perhaps only echoed by those in Istanbul that fateful European night 15 years ago, as Merseyside turned a distinct shade of red with fans defying pandemic regulations, bedecked with flags and flares lighting up the North West night sky.
Denied celebrating the end of an exhaustive 30-year wait in person in grander style, Jurgen Klopp‘s men – and indeed their zealous fanbase – had reached the promised land without kicking a ball.
As the Reds travel Manchester-bound to face their fallen league foes this week then, on the cusp of a new era, Thursday night could present the perfect opportunity for a changing of the guard. Both metaphorically and figuratively.
Guard of honour
Bringing to an end three decades of anguish and relentless mockery for the Kop faithful, Liverpool sealed their inaugural Premier League crown to the echoes of much hyperbole, but even the most vitriolic of anti-Reds fan could not begrudge the Merseysiders their final jewel in the footballing crown.
Finally adding their 19th and surely most prestigious league title without so much as lacing up their boots, a midweek jaunt to the fallen champions City could set a precedent as Klopp’s men play their first game at the summit of English league football since 1990.
Though the COVID-19 era greets this blockbuster clash with very different sentiment, league conformity does not with the Citizens set to give their visiting Premier League champions a traditional – if socially distanced – guard of honour.
Having led outright from the second week of the campaign, last Thursday night’s result merely mathematically sealed what football fans have known for some time; Liverpool are far and away the best team in the land – for the moment at least.
The new hierarchy?
That moment however, could be set in stone for some time. Just as Manchester City ended their own 44-year wait to claim the top tier crown eight years ago – followed by three more Premier League titles – Liverpool under Klopp could be on the verge of a dynasty.
Just 12 months on from winning his first UEFA Champions League at the third attempt, the German has revolutionised the Reds in a way fallen idol ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish could have only yearned for at his second appointment with the club in 2011.
The investment of Fenway Sports has of course had a big say in that, however, it takes a special man to have guided the Reds from their domestic wilderness and the 53-year-old from Stuttgart is undoubtedly a steward of such ilk.
Liverpool are often thought of as one of the true king of European football when it comes to the European Cup, there can be no doubt, but would fans now happily substitute their six-times in claiming ‘Ol Big Ears’ for more domestic glory? The short answer is surely, yes.
Now dethroned on the continent, could attentions now switch to building a legacy under Klopp that their great foes along the M62 at Old Trafford so cherished under Sir Alex Ferguson? Without wanting get ahead of any such notion, the task to even retain their league crown will be tall one, but Liverpool have the wares to be on the verge of something very special.
Target on Reds’ back
‘With great power comes great responsibility’ so the United States Supreme Court famously quotes, and the case is never more so true with Klopp’s men, who now at the top of the mountain must prepare multiple volley at the Red target on their back.
The Citizens have already regained their Premier League crown on two occasions, and as Guardiola looks to regather his troops – perhaps with a new visage – City will seek to bounce back next season having been left in the dust by the champions.
Then there are Chelsea who with Frank Lampard at the helm are building a similar dynamic to Guardiola had in his early days at Barcelona and then Bayern Munich.
With the summer transfer window not yet upon us, the Blues have already recruited the in-demand Timo Werner from RB Leipzig to lead their attack next term, together with Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech to spear an attack likely to also include a revitalised Christian Pulisic.
Manchester United have are also hinting at a brighter future, with Bruno Fernandes in their ranks. The arrival of the Portuguese has even aroused the interest of Paul Pogba once more, whose future at Old Trafford had looked all-but concluded.
Should the Reds Devils entice Jadon Sancho back to the opposing half of Manchester also, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s charges would see the opportunity to chase down the new champions as the perfect goal, a case equally mirrored by fans, ravenous of such a chance.
In the case of Liverpool themselves it is hard to improve a winning system, indeed the Reds’ main issue going forward could lie at the feet of Roberto Firmino.
Whilst there is no denying the Brazilian is one of the best number nines in the game – his hold-up play a sheer joy – Firmino has struggled to share the goal-scoring burden up front with with Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah.
In the same whisper, said front three are perhaps the best unit around right now, but Firmino will unlikely ever be a 15-goal-a-season hit-man again, such is the Liverpool ethic now. That might create problems for Klopp going forward – even – perish the thought – the departure of the Canarinho favourite.
For present time, Liverpool can bask in their newly-found heraldry though. As the Citizens and Guardiola prepare to be humbled on their own turf in handing over the reins this week however, the Reds should be under no illusion that the hard work starts here.
Manchester City host newly-crowned Premier League champions Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday evening, kick-off 20:15 UK time.
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