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Liverpool and Man City need each other to drive up levels

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Manchester City cannot be stopped. That is the consensus in the Premier League by now, reinforced by yet another win for Pep Guardiola’s side on Wednesday night. This time, Everton were swatted aside, and City moved ten points clear at the top.

Afterwards, Carlo Ancelotti said what everyone was thinking. It was, he admitted, “almost impossible” to compete. “It was a really difficult game. We don't need to have regret for this game. In this moment you can lose against Manchester City. I think they are going the right way to win the title this season.”



In this mercurial, truncated season, things have changed quickly. It was not so long ago that City looked stunted and out of sorts, languishing in midtable after a couple of months. But a stunning run of form since the turn of the year has seen them accelerate away from the pack, on course for a third title win in four years.



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For Liverpool, this could be good news. That may sound like a contradiction, and admittedly it would be far better if the Reds were in City’s position right now. But given the injuries Jürgen Klopp has been forced to deal with in recent months, such a scenario was always unlikely.



Instead, Liverpool can look at this as a potential catalyst for a return to the standards of the last two seasons. The return of 99 points in 2019/20 and 97 points in 2018/19 were made necessary by the remarkable consistency of Guardiola’s City, a team that undeniably pushed Liverpool onto greater things.

Without that kind of pressure, there is an inevitable drop off. That has been evident this season, particularly early on when it seemed like the eventual title winners would do well to clear 80 points.

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The dynamic will surely change also from fans back in stadiums. Liverpool thrive on intensity in every fashion, and therefore finding that they have a (hopefully) roaring Anfield — still reeling from the inability to celebrate a first league title in 30 years — to remind them of the nature of the very thing they’re trying to achieve. This is a team that needs that more than most, just like they seemingly need the competition with another club to drive up standards.

City, though, are now back to the unrelenting winning machine that made the Premier League title such a seismic achievement for Klopp and his players. It’s a timely reminder for Liverpool, if they need it, that the champions of this division will, at least for the foreseeable future, still have to post a sizable points total.

If nothing else, this season could serve as a wake-up call for the Reds. City’s regression last year was not permanent, and it appears to have galvanised them, motivated a group of players who had perhaps, for a short period, lost their edge.

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