One of the best things about watching Sunday’s thrilling draw between Manchester City and Liverpool was knowing we get to see them do it all again at Wembley this weekend.
The football we saw at Etihad Stadium was ridiculously good and showed how far ahead of the rest of the Premier League these teams are.
I know the league table tells you there is a gap when you look at how many more points the top two have won – but I mean in terms of their level of performance, where there is a gulf in the standards they are setting compared to everyone below them. Quite simply, they are miles ahead.
I am talking about both teams and the relentless tempo they set: their energy, their intensity, their quality of play and the players’ hunger for victory – and the two great managers in Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp who are behind all of that.
They have been doing this for a while now, entertaining us with brilliant football whenever they meet and driving each other on to greater heights.
Now we all get to take a breath and look forward to watching them again on Saturday in the FA Cup semi-final, which is live on the BBC. These games just don’t disappoint and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
A draw was probably a fair result
We saw the same 2-2 scoreline when City went to Anfield in October and an almost identical game. Both sides felt they could have won it but had to settle for a point apiece.
City were the better team in the first half on Sunday, but the way Liverpool came back at them meant a draw was probably a fair result, even though Riyad Mahrez could have nicked it for City right at the end.
Guardiola’s side were a bit more direct than normal, to get around and behind Liverpool’s high defensive line, and they caused some problems with those balls over the top for their wide men to chase.
City could have been out of sight by the break – and perhaps should have been – but they missed some big chances and Liverpool were never just going to lie down anyway.
Lots of teams come to Etihad Stadium and sit in, but that is not Liverpool’s way and it won’t be at Wembley either.
Klopp wanted to try to be tight and compact, but he still tried to get plenty of men forward whenever Liverpool broke.
It meant there were opportunities at both ends and that kept everyone on the edge of their seats until the final whistle – myself included.
Neither manager will change their attacking style of play the next time they meet, though, and nor should they.
Both teams have such a strong identity and their players clearly believe in it, because it works. They stuck to it here, and that’s what helped make it such an entertaining game.
In terms of individual performances, Kevin de Bruyne was immense for City with the way he kept driving them forward, but it is the collective you have to admire, with both sides.
We are so lucky to have two absolutely world-class football teams, going toe-to-toe with one another, and with so much at stake.
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Minute margins will decide what happens next
Both clubs are trying to do something very special this season – City are going for the Treble and Liverpool still have the chance of becoming the first English side to win the quadruple.
To get this far, with their hopes of lifting multiple trophies alive in the middle of April, is just incredible and shows exactly how good they are.
One of those bids has to end this week because we have to have a winner and a loser at Wembley, and it is likely to be the minutest of margins that decide which team is which. It nearly always is.
You might remember the John Stones goal-line clearance that earned City a vital win when they met at the Etihad in 2019, when they ended up pipping Liverpool to the title by a point.
It was millimetres that made the difference on that occasion, while on Sunday Raheem Sterling’s goal was disallowed for offside after he timed his run a few milliseconds early.
That’s how close things will be in the FA Cup semi-final and it is still just as tight in the title race too.
City know if they win every league game then the title is theirs, but they also know one slip means they could be the ones playing catch-up.
When you look at both teams’ run-ins, City’s looks slightly easier but Liverpool have got enough firepower to win all their matches. They have already proved that.
|Manchester City and Liverpool’s remaining Premier League fixtures|
|19 April||Man Utd (h)|
|Brighton (h)||20 April|
|Watford (h)||23 April|
|24 April||Everton (h)|
|Leeds (a)||30 April||Newcastle (a)|
|7 May||Tottenham (h)|
|Newcastle (h)||8 May|
|10 May||Aston Villa (a)|
|West Ham (a)||15 May*||Southampton (a)|
|Aston Villa (h)||22 May||Wolves (h)|
|*City or Liverpool will be in the FA Cup final on 14 May, so their match on 15 May will be rearranged.|
While City have the slight advantage now, I still think there will be a twist or two – for both clubs.
Whoever wins at Wembley and progresses in Europe will face a crazy schedule in the next few weeks, but they have got the squads to deal with it and this scenario is where they set out to be at the start of the season.
I still don’t know which of them will win the Premier League. But, just like in 2019, it is unfortunate one of them has to finish second – because neither of them really deserve that.
Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
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