The two best teams in England last season meet in the curtain raiser to the 2019-20 campaign when Liverpool and Manchester City square off in the Community Shield 2019 at Wembley on Sunday (3pm live on BT Sport).
Man City took a full sweep of domestic honours last season, becoming the first team to do the treble of Premier League title and the FA and EFL Cups. Liverpool ran them very close in the league and enjoyed success in Europe by winning the Champions League.
The degree to which the pair of them dominated the league title race is illustrated by the fact that not only did they accumulate two of the top three points hauls in the Premier League era (since 1992-93), but that Liverpool in second finished a full 25 points clear of Chelsea in third. That was by far the largest such gap between those positions in the Premier League era.
A glance at the bookmakers odds for this year’s title race suggests they are again the primary contenders to lift the Premier League trophy. With no major outgoings from either club this summer, they both come into the new campaign as stable and well-oiled machines ready for their next challenge.
For Liverpool, that is to somehow find a way of overcoming this City side in order to claim their first league title since 1990. They lost just once in the league last season, averaged 2.34 goals per match, conceded just 0.58 per match, accumulated 97 points and still ended up second, one point shy of City.
It is a task they seem set to take on with a largely unchanged group. Liverpool have not yet seriously delved into the transfer market this summer. Any moves they do end up doing will probably only be to touch up things around the edges. With Daniel Sturridge gone, another bench and rotation forward seems the most obvious likely incoming.
It is always silly to put too much stock in pre-season results, and it is therefore unsurprising that Jurgen Klopp seems untroubled by the three defeats his team have suffered across their last five friendlies, not least because he is yet to get all of his key players back in action. Alisson, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have all only returned to training this week, while Sadio Mane won’t join up with the squad until next Monday.
In the circumstances, Klopp has been quick to downplay suggestions that the result of Sunday’s match will provide any sort of useful indicator as to the relative strength of the two teams this season. “You win it, nobody cares,” he said. “You lose it and some care.”
Indeed, few would likely have remembered Man City’s triumph in last season’s Community Shield had they not made a big deal of including it in their post-season celebrations, seemingly just so that their “Fourmidables” branding wouldn’t go to waste despite their failure to add the Champions League to their three domestic trophies.
It is the Champions League that likely represents the primary goal for Man City and their coach Pep Guardiola this season. Their league performances suggest they have been one of the best teams in Europe in each of the last two seasons, but they have failed to go further than the last eight in the Champions League, twice losing to English opposition (Liverpool, then Tottenham Hotspur) at that juncture.
Like Liverpool, City haven’t yet been especially active in the transfer market. They have so far paid £63 million to sign Rodrigo Hernandez from Atletico Madrid. He is a genuine, long-term replacement for Fernandinho at the base of midfield. They will likely move for another forward if Leroy Sane departs. They otherwise appear to be happy with what they’ve got.
No wonder. After renovating the squad in the summer of 2017, City have been the dominant force in English football, winning five of the available six trophies and losing just seven of their 97 matches across the three major domestic competitions.
Guardiola is in a similar position to Klopp in terms of available talent, with the likes of Ederson, Fernandinho, Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero only just back from their summer breaks, but City’s squad is slightly deeper and so better suited to dealing with those absences. They certainly had no problem putting four goals past West Ham in a recent friendly.
Things will clearly be a bit more competitive than that on Sunday, but it is the top rated British bookies’ favourites, Man City, who can be expected to emerge victorious.
Our Preview’s Liverpool vs. Manchester City Betting Tips Verdict
- Bet on ‘Manchester City to win in a match in which both teams score’ @ 13/5 with Bet365.
Compare Community Shield Match Betting Odds from Top Bookies