2018/19 Premier League Title Race: Man City Vs Liverpool Battle

2018/19 Premier League Title race of Man City and Liverpool

Last Updated on November 7, 2021

The 2018/19 Premier League season saw one of the greatest title races in recent years. Manchester City and Liverpool put up unbelievable numbers and went toe-to-toe to win the biggest prize. 

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And the two coaches that led these teams – Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp had plenty to do with the intensity of these teams. It is time to reflect on this incredible season where both teams were just a level beyond the rest.

Manchester City and Liverpool Pre-season Transfers

It started in the summer transfer window in 2018. Manchester City was high from winning the league as centurions. They were the first team to accumulate 100 points in a season. Still, they signed Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City for £67.80m. Guardiola then released Yaya Toure, offloaded fringe players like Mangala and Joe Hart.

Their rivals Liverpool suffered a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final. Liverpool responded immediately just a few days later by signing Fabinho. Their goalkeeping worries were also rectified by landing Alisson from AS Roma. They reinforced their midfield options by adding Naby Keita from RB Leipzig. 

The mainstream media claimed that Manchester City and Liverpool were the two teams going to challenge for the title looking at the transfer activity and past performances. It didn’t fail to live up to the hype.

Read Also: The Most Shocking Transfers in Football History

First Half of the 2018/19 Premier League Title Race

Liverpool started the season beating West Ham 4-0 while Manchester City responded convincingly, beating a Post-Wenger Arsenal team 0-2 away. Both teams’ pressing and high tempo football set the tone, and many saw them as favorites already. Liverpool made a strong start winning their opening six matches while City dropped points once in those matches. 

Both teams met at Anfield in October, level on 19 points. It was early days but both teams knew the result there would be significant. Guardiola suffered a few humiliating defeats at Anfield in the past. So, he tried a different approach on this occasion and didn’t let Liverpool play their expansive style. 

Both teams looked to settle for a stalemate till Man City won a very late penalty. To the joy of the Anfield faithful, Riyad Mahrez skied the penalty over the bar. A missed opportunity for City. The clash ended 0-0. After 15 games, Man City (on 41 points) and Liverpool (39 points) were miles ahead of everyone. 

December came, Man City fell to a few defeats to the likes of Chelsea and Leicester away. And also, a shocking 2-3 loss at home to Crystal Palace. Liverpool was still unbeaten, capitalized on their slip-ups, and topped the table at Christmas.

Consider Reading: The Best Midfielders In The Premier League History

Showdown at The Etihad Stadium

After 20 games, Liverpool was remarkably seven points clear, going into the clash at Etihad. The game saw one of the most intense matches you would see from the two best teams in the league. Both had their fair share of chances. John Stones cleared Sadio Mane’s effort off the line by only a few millimeters. 

Aguero opened the scoring before halftime to give City a vital lead. In the second half, their lead was canceled out by Roberto Firmino, making it 1-1. Liverpool had control of the title at the moment, but City responded again. 

Leroy Sane found the back of the net with his left-footed shot beating Alisson and taking a touch off the far post before going in. A match decided by fine margins. And City celebrates a 2-1 win over Liverpool and close the gap to 4 points.

Consider Reading: How Is Ball Possession REALLY Calculated in Football?

Liverpool’s Downfall

Just when you thought City was fighting their way back to win the title, they go on to lose again a few weeks later. This time 2-1 to Newcastle at St. James Park. The advantage shifted back to Liverpool to go seven points clear. 

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But the following day, they failed to capitalize and only settled for a draw against Leicester. Only a five-point cushion for the Reds. It got more concerning as they drew again, this time to West Ham. Slowly the chinks in the armor were showing. 

A few weeks later, Liverpool went away to their fiercest rivals Man United and fought out a goalless draw. Meanwhile, City were winning games and going on an incredible winning streak. They closed the gap to only one point. City won their game in hand and went above Liverpool before the Reds played Everton at Goodison Park.

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To all the Evertonian and Mancunians joy, they held Liverpool to a goalless draw. And now Liverpool found themselves one point behind City with ten games to go.

Consider Reading: 6 Lessons Learnt From Alisson Becker’s Goal For Liverpool

Manchester City’s Incredible Run

Many pundits claimed that this 10-game run-in will see both teams dropping points here and there. But City and Liverpool had a phenomenal mentality. They both went on to win all remaining ten matches in one of the most quality run-ins you would ever experience as a football fan. 

One week Liverpool made a statement by beating Chelsea, then City responded with a win. Another week City made a statement with an away win over Man United, then Liverpool responded with another win. The table kept swapping leaders each day. No team could cause an upset and put themselves in the spotlight because City and Liverpool were that good! 

City won their remaining games that included a hard-fought win against Leicester when Vincent Kompany scored a banger to send City fans into delirium. Liverpool snatched a later winner against Newcastle in the penultimate week to keep the title race alive on the final day. 

On the final day, Liverpool went ahead against Wolves and learned that City was a goal behind Brighton. The fans had some hope, but it wasn’t to be. City held their nerve and came back to win 1-4 at the Amex. Liverpool went on to beat Wolves and finished on 97 points. They only lost one game that unfortunately proved to be the most significant defeat to City. 

City were crowned 2018/19 Premier League champions with 98 points.

Consider Reading: The Best Referees in the Premier League

Lessons Learnt From The 2018/19 Premier League Title Race

The 2018/19 Premier League title race, managed by two inspirational coaches saw one of the finest finishes in the Premier League history in terms of quality. Many would argue Liverpool let go of the massive lead back in January, but credit goes to Manchester City who managed to win 18 of their remaining 19 matches (only losing to Newcastle). 

Those are astonishing numbers, and you can only hold up your hands and say you came short to a better team. Liverpool in that period of 19 games, only drew 4 times and lost 1 game. 

Liverpool put up the highest total in English top-flight history as a runner-up while City defended their crown. Both teams finished 25-26 points above 3rd place Chelsea. 

It will be rare to see such a quality title race ever again by two good footballing teams who had the quality and tenacity to put up such incredible numbers. 

Pep Guardiola’s arrival at the Premier League has changed the standards of title-winning sides. During the years of Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson, mid 80 points seemed enough to win a title.

Guardiola and Klopp elevated the standards by setting a bar of a minimum of 90-95 points to win the league. A story of two elite coaches who are able to bring the best out of each other

Do you think we will see another title race again soon as this one?

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