LONDON, BALIPOST.com – Manchester City have Premier League immortality in their sights as they start their title defence this weekend, but Liverpool’s burning desire to get their hands on the trophy will fuel a heavyweight battle for supremacy.
In the blue corner, treble winners City are at the peak of their powers and look capable of enjoying a period of sustained dominance not seen since Manchester United earned three successive Premier League titles from 2007 to 2009.
But in the red corner, European champions Liverpool, chasing a first English title since 1990, have more than a puncher’s chance of ending City’s reign after pushing Pep Guardiola’s side all the way to the final day last season.
The first blows will be landed this week as Liverpool kick off the new Premier League campaign against promoted Norwich at Anfield on Friday, before City head to West Ham on Saturday.
Sunday’s no-holds-barred Community Shield clash showed the growing rivalry between England’s pre-eminent teams, with City beating Liverpool on penalties following a 1-1 draw that underlined how little there is to separate the sides.
Adding Atletico Madrid’s Rodri for a club-record £63 million ($77 million) gives Guardiola an even greater embarrassment of riches.
With five major trophies over the past two seasons — including Premier League crowns clinched with unprecedented hauls of 100 and then 98 points — City are the bookmakers’ favourites to become only the second club to win a hat-trick of English titles in the past 35 years after United did it twice.
Guardiola is a keen student of football history and has revelled in City’s record-breaking feats, so the opportunity to further bolster his team’s credentials as one of England’s all-time greats will not be lost on the Spaniard.
Although City have never won the Champions League and Guardiola last lifted it back in 2011 with Barcelona, he said domestic bliss remains his preferred passion.
“To maintain the health and focus of the team, the most important thing is the Premier League,” Guardiola said.
“It is the standout competition because it is every weekend. In the Champions League, many things can happen in one or two games.
“We will be closer to achieving in Europe when we have more Premier League titles. That is a nice process and the right process to do at Manchester City.
“If I could have one thing this season, right now, it would definitely be the title.” (AFP)