Going into this week there was a possibility that a remarkable five English clubs could occupy the last eight places of the UEFA Champions League.
However, that ultimately took quite a pummelling with Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea all crashing out despite good first-leg positions, leaving Manchester City and Liverpool behind to spearhead the English challenge.
After today’s quarter-final draw which sees the two sides pitted against one another – we analyse who will come out on top in this thrilling encounter:
Manchester City went into the draw as the bookmaker’s favourites to lift the trophy given their stunning domestic form. Pep Guardiola’s side have swatted all in their sight on the way to the Premier League title, suffering all but one defeat on the way. However, that came at the hands of Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s side pressed City’s defence and tore them apart on the counter, firing four goals at lightning speed – there were times when it looked like City simply could not cope with their work-rate and energy.
The likes of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane had a field day on the day in question where Liverpool triumphed 4-3 at Anfield, but it must be remembered that the Reds did also almost surrender a 4-1 lead with just minutes to go.
Liverpool’s defence has been questionable at best for the most part of the campaign, and this was exemplified both by the almost capitulation at Anfield and also when the two sides met in September for their first Premier League meeting of the season.
Sadio Mane was sent off early in the game and though many attribute his dismissal as the reason why City triumphed 5-0 on the day in question, it must be remembered how easy City tore their opponents apart.
Sergio Aguero got in behind Ragnar Klavan easily, while it was a day to forget for all defenders as Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane also found the net with ease.
Liverpool have addressed this problem since, with the addition of the world’s most expensive defender in Virgil van Dijk and they have done well since, with Loris Karius also establishing his place as Klopp’s number one goalkeeper.
A game between these two sides can guarantee one thing, and that is goals – but while Manchester City thumped Liverpool 5-0 in the early stages in the campaign, it cannot be forgotten how easy the Reds made it look to beat the so-called unbeatables.
The Reds have much more European successes to call upon than their fellow English counterparts, and the prospect of a domestic derby underneath the lights at Anfield is one that supporters on Merseyside have relished with the best part of a decade.
City go into the game as favourites undoubtedly, given the lead they hold over Liverpool in the Premier League table – but anything can happen in football, and Klopp’s side have provided Pep Guardiola’s team with their sternest challenge to date.
Many say City are destined for glory – but overcoming Liverpool will be an incredibly hard task, given that the Reds are traditionally a different animal when it comes to the big European nights.
They have knocked teams for six and seven in this competition, largely by virtue of their ruthless counter-attacking style and should City go for the throat, it’ll play right into their opponents hands.
Liverpool have newfound solidity at the back, and while City have broken teams down with ease, it will be tough for them to do so this time around, but they are more than capable of achieving it.
A fascinating tie for the neutral – we can’t wait to see it unfold the first two weeks of April.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena