Have Arsenal replaced Liverpool as Manchester City’s closest rivals?

Have Arsenal replaced Liverpool as Manchester City's closest rivals?

When Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool lined up against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Premier League, fans were always treated to an explosive affair.

Such box office fixtures showcase the world-class levels of both teams, who have become the envy of the division over the years.

These two football giants battled it out in epic title races and unforgettable Champions League matches, delivering non-stop excitement and top-quality football.

Liverpool vs City became a must-watch fixture in the Premier League and across Europe, rivalling some of the best derbies on the continent.

However, over the past two seasons, Arsenal seem to have overtaken Liverpool as City’s closest rivals, with Mikel Arteta trying to wrestle the elusive Premier League title from his mentor.

Liverpool fans will surely be hoping Arne Slot can get them back to their usual heights, although they’ll be wise to temper expectations ahead of next season.

Nevertheless, fans can purchase Liverpool tickets from Seatsnet.com to see Slot’s side in action first-hand.

Guardiola – Klopp era of dominance

English football has been electrified by the riveting rivalry between Guardiola’s City and Klopp’s Liverpool for the past eight years.

When Guardiola joined City in 2016, it was expected to reignite the fierce competition with Jose Mourinho, who was named Manchester United manager in the same summer.

No one expected it to be a Guardiola – Klopp era, but in hindsight, it’s clear that we should have seen what was coming.

After all, the clash of tactical philosophies between Guardiola’s possession-based style at Bayern Munich and Klopp’s emphasis on counter-pressing and exploiting space at Borussia Dortmund made for some thrilling showdowns during their time in Germany.

Their time in England was a slow-burn rivalry at first. However, it sparked into life in the first half of 2018, when City were beaten 4-3 at Anfield in January before getting obliterated 3-0 in a Champions League quarter-final first leg. 

As the years went by, Guardiola and Klopp continued to shape Premier League football with their contrasting yet demanding and highly competitive tactical ideas.

The rivalry between the two teams and managers was intense, with both constantly pushing each other to unprecedented heights.

When Klopp first arrived at Anfield in October 2015, he promised the club faithful a league title within four years.

Without Guardiola in the picture, he certainly would have lived up to his word. It took him a bit of extra time, but the German finally ended Liverpool’s three-decade wait for the Premier League title.

Klopp and Guardiola went trophyless in their first full season in the Premier League but have gone on to win seven of the last eight league titles.

But it is not just the fact that they have won all those titles between them, the nature of the title challenge was nothing short of electrifying.

In 2018/19, Liverpool scored the fourth-highest number of points in English top-flight history but did not win the league.

City picked up 98 points during that campaign, beating Liverpool (97) to the title by one point. The Reds ended the season on a nine-game winning run, but City won a staggering 14 in a row.

The 2021/22 produced the second most thrilling final day in Premier League title history (only behind Sergio Aguero’s injury-time winner to give City the title ahead of Manchester United).

Liverpool scored twice in the final six minutes to beat Wolves 3-1, but City bagged three after the 75th minute to beat Aston Villa 3-2 and clinch the title.

Klopp’s side needed the Cityzens to drop points against Villa, but they were left heartbroken in a title race with City – and not for the first time.

The title race between these two teams was always fierce, but during Klopp’s reign at Liverpool, both managers won every trophy.

Arsenal overtake Liverpool in the title race

While the thrills and spectacular football of the Guardiola – Klopp era were visible to all, they began to fizzle out.

It felt like a domination rather than a rivalry, with Liverpool always coming short when it matters in the Premier League title race.

With City continuing to excel and Liverpool losing their swagger, the Premier League was crying out for a team to rival the Cityzens, and Arsenal stepped up.

The rivalry between Guardiola and Klopp gave Arteta enough time to mould a team capable of competing for the Premier League title, and it was only a matter of time before they joined the race.

Over the past two seasons, Arteta has challenged Guardiola and City for the league title. While he has come up short on both occasions, the Spaniard has undoubtedly transformed the Gunners into genuine title contenders.

Last season’s narrow miss was a hard pill to swallow for the Gunners, but they are best positioned to challenge City for the title next season, especially with Liverpool undergoing yet another transition after Klopp’s exit.

While it would be unwise to count Liverpool out of the 2024/25 title race, Arsenal will feel they are getting closer to knocking City off their perch.

The Gunners could be third-time lucky next season, but their activity in the transfer market will determine whether they can build on last season’s performances and go one step further next term.

Can Slot steer Liverpool back to glory, or will Arsenal remain City’s closest rivals?

The curtain has closed on the Klopp era at Liverpool, and a new chapter begins with the arrival of Slot.

The former Feyenoord manager has inherited a talented squad, but he must galvanise the team and build on Klopp’s success at Anfield.

Slot himself exudes confidence. “I have all the confidence in this squad,” he said. “We can add a few things, hopefully, get a few more points than last season’s 82.

“With the likes of Arsenal and City pushing the pace, we need to improve to finish higher.”

However, optimism needs to be tempered with reality, especially with Slot walking into a fierce battleground.

Guardiola’s well-oiled machines remain the dominant force, but Arteta’s Arsenal are hungry to dethrone the champions and could reignite last season’s nail-biting title race.

Despite a gut-wrenching finale to last season’s title race, Arteta remains determined to end Arsenal’s two-decade wait to secure the elusive Premier League trophy.

“If we do what we have to do, we’re going to be closer, and at the end, we win.”  

While the timing remains uncertain, Arsenal’s unwavering determination and their ever-improving squad suggest another intense title challenge is on the horizon.

Liverpool are facing another transitional year, and Arsenal must capitalise on this by pushing City once again for the Premier League title.

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