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Does the Liverpool v Man City rivalry need more blood and thunder to be considered a 'proper' rivalry? ⛈️⚔️
Critics have highlighted the amicable relations between players and the managers as a point of concern
The touchline has played host to feistier clashes between managers than the amicable affair that took place at the Etihad on Sunday.
Come full-time, Pep Guardiola planted a high-five on Jürgen Klopp’s palm that would have surely left it stinging a little from the comically-excessive force applied.
Beyond that, however, there was little there to hint of any animosity between the two sides.
The two coaches were later spotted chatting about the 54-year-old’s partner, Ulla, who had attended the game in the away section with fellow Liverpool supporters.
Kevin De Bruyne and Virgil van Dijk were also seen chatting about their children after the full-time whistle.
That being said, the critics would have us thinking that this isn’t a 'proper rivalry’.
Forget the fact that both sides have been the dominant forces in English football for the last four years - miles ahead of the competition in the Premier League.
If Pepijn Lijnders isn’t having to hold back the Liverpool head coach from strangling his Manchester City counterpart with his own intestines whilst the Spaniard screams ‘TWICE’ into the heavens, then we can’t possibly call this a ‘rivalry’, can we?
But ultimately what is a ‘rivalry’? How can we quantify it?
The classic case that has been brought up is that of Arsène Wenger’s relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson whilst the pair sat in the Arsenal and Manchester United dugouts respectively.
Wenger v Ferguson - a ‘proper’ rivalry?
Yet, neither pair reached the dizzying heights of sheer, cold-blooded domination of the English top-flight over a four-year period.
As far as individual points tallies are concerned, only Chelsea have come close to those registered by the current top two sides in England with 95 and 93 amassed in the 2004/05 and 2016/17 campaigns respectively.
The Blues are then closely followed by the Red Devils with their 92-point haul from the 1993/94 term.
You have to swipe further down the list to find Arsenal’s historic 90-point Invincibles season.
All highly impressive, don’t get us wrong, but does it compare to a collective haul of 852 points between Liverpool and the blue half of Manchester since the 2017/18 campaign?
When was the last time we could confidently say that the top two sides in world football both resided in England, both played an attractive brand of football and that only a point separated the two sides with seven league games to go?
There’s the touch of the colosseum in some pundits’ wistful gazing into the past at heated rivalries fuelled by hate and testosterone.
There’s no denying that there’s an animalistic itch many of us have enjoyed having scratched whilst watching touchline bust-ups.
Take Mikel Arteta’s spat with Klopp on the touchline at Anfield - an event that undoubtedly invited a clear reaction from the home support to help the Reds on to secure a lion’s share of the points up for grabs.
Jürgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta enter into an altercation over a challenge from Sadio Mané
The problem is, if we’re too busy looking for the next touchline bust-up, we might end up not fully appreciating one of the (if not the) best title races the Premier League has ever seen.
Would the rivalry (whether it can truly be categorised as such in its current form) benefit from a bit more blood and thunder?
It all very much remains up for debate, though we’re certainly inclined to vote against the critics in this regard and get back to nervously chewing away at our fingertips as we wait and see which way the title crown will swing in this intoxicating campaign.
Ultimately, of course, if it’s a straight-up choice between blood and thunder and glorious football - the latter should always be coming up trumps.
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