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Premier League - Football: Title rivals facing defining moment

As the Premier League heads into the home straight, leaders Manchester City and second-placed Liverpool square off on Sunday.

It's the latest installment of the saga between two of the world's top clubs and offers another opportunity for Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp to make a statement.

Manchester City are 1/1 to seal victory over 5/2 Liverpool and the draw is available at 11/4.

City, who can be backed at 4/9 to win the Premier League, sat 14 points clear of 7/4 Liverpool in January but the gap is just one point heading into Sunday's encounter at the Etihad Stadium.

Liverpool's 11-game unbeaten run, having won the last 10 in succession, has allowed them to pile the pressure on the current Premier League champions.

Guardiola's side, meanwhile, have stuttered, drawing at Southampton and Crystal Palace and losing at home to Tottenham.

Few would have predicted a title race at the turn of the year but all eyes will now be on the Etihad this weekend.

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Intriguing story continues to unfold

Guardiola and Klopp initially crossed paths in the Bundesliga when the former arrived at Bayern Munich in 2013.

Klopp was already in the hotseat at rivals Borussia Dortmund, having been appointed in 2008, but he was unable to match Guardiola's Bayern.

The Bavarians won the title in each of the three seasons with the Spaniard at the helm, while they also sealed two domestic doubles.

Dortmund and Klopp parted ways at the end of the 2014/15 term before taking the reins at Liverpool in October 2015.

In eight meetings between the pair across all competitions in Germany, the two heralded bosses picked up four wins each.

Their rivalry resumed when Guardiola was appointed City boss in the summer of 2016 and they've squared off a further 14 times.

Liverpool earned Klopp a 1-0 win at Anfield in their first Premier League battle, but the head-to-head record is level heading into this weekend's clash.

It's five wins for each club across all competitions with four draws, including a dramatic 2-2 game at Anfield earlier this term.

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Liverpool looking to frustrate

Guardiola failed to win any silverware in his maiden campaign at the Etihad but he's won the league title in three of the following four seasons.

The only club to break City's monopoly on the Premier League crown are Liverpool, lifting the trophy for the first time in their history in 2019/20.

City came back fighting to reclaim the title at a canter last term as Liverpool struggled with injuries to several key figures.

But it's been a level playing field once again in 2021/22 and both clubs are hunting silverware in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

Liverpool, priced at 15/8 to win the Champions League, already have one trophy in the bag after beating Chelsea in the League Cup final, while they are in a strong position on the European front, defeating Benfica 3-1 in the first leg of their quarter-final on Tuesday.

City, who can be backed at 7/4 to win the Champions League, also earned a win in the first leg of their last-eight tie but they'll only have a narrow 1-0 advantage to build on when they head to Atletico Madrid on 13th April.

Understandably, all the focus is on this weekend's engagement but City and Liverpool will also go toe-to-toe in the semi-finals of the FA Cup on 16th April.

Run-in could be key

This weekend's game is being billed as season-defining but, even if leaders City do slip up, they will have a further seven games to try and get back on top.

It could be argued that Liverpool have a tougher run of games to conclude their campaign.

The Merseyside outfit must face Manchester United, Everton, Newcastle, Tottenham, Aston Villa, Southampton and Wolves.

Three of those clubs, United, Tottenham and Wolves are currently placed in the top-eight and are competing for a route into Europe next season.

City play just two sides in the top eight - Wolves and West Ham - during their run-in and they will be confident going into games against relegation candidates Leeds, Everton and Watford.

History favours the hosts

It's also worth highlighting the importance of home advantage. Liverpool haven't won a league game at City since Guardiola's appointment.

The Citizens have won three of five home league outings against the Reds and they've been extremely strong on their own patch throughout 2021/22.

Liverpool do boast the best home record in the division and are yet to lose a game in the league this season, winning 12 and drawing three, however, they haven't been quite as potent on their travels.

Klopp's men have collected 39 points at Anfield in 15 games, conceding just seven but they've claimed six fewer points in the same number of fixtures on the road.

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