The two teams resume their battle for the Premier League crown this weekend with the title very much in reach.
Liverpool heads into the weekend in top spot on 76 points, two ahead of City, but having played a game more.
Jurgen Klopp’s side is unbeaten since losing to City on January 3 — winning six and drawing four of its 10 Premier League games.
It is conceivable that Liverpool, even if it won every single one of its remaining seven games and reach 97 points — and still lose out on the title.
That’s because Manchester City, the reigning champion, could reach 98 if it wins all of its remaining eight fixtures.
No team has ever reached 90 points and not won the title — but both of these teams could become the first.
Whatever happens though, neither will match City’s points total of last season — a record 100 — a total that saw it finish 19 points clear of its nearest rival and 25 ahead of Liverpool in fourth.
READ: Can football defeat the far-right in Germany?READ: Football player banned for racial abuse quits sport
Defending champion City appears to have stepped up a gear in recent weeks with Raheem Sterling in particularly impressive form.
The 24-year-old, who scored a hat-trick for England in its 5-0 win over Czech Republic last week, also hit three in his last Premier League game to help City secure 3-1 win over Watford.
Sterling’s 15 league goals and nine assists have helped City back into contention after Liverpool moved seven points clear at the summit back in January.
Such has been Sterling’s impact both for England and City, that even his former teammates turned rivals at Liverpool, are talking about him. Sterling was at Liverpool between 2010 and 2015, before signing for City.
READ: Why Lionel Messi is the world’s best playerREAD: Bayern signs Lucas Hernandez for $90 million
“We knew he had something special at Liverpool,” Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson told reporters after Sterling’s hat-trick for England.
“You could see how good he was, and he had the right mentality. “I feel as though he’s more of a leader now in the England team. That’s come with experience. But he’s always had that good mentality towards football.
“I knew from the minute I started training with him that he’s a special player. He’s proved how good he is in the last couple of years. He can still get better, and he will do. Everyone has seen how special he is for England and City.
“We all know how good a player he is, and he has the right mentality to keep wanting more and stay hungry. It’s been a pleasure to watch him grow in the last few years.”
Since defeating Liverpool on January 3, City has taken 24 points from a possible 27, winning eight and losing one of its nine Premier League games.
It has also reached the semifinals of the FA Cup, quarterfinals of the Champions League and won the League Cup — keeping it on schedule for an unprecedented quadruple.
READ: Solskjaer confirmed as United bossREAD: Neymar faces ban for Champions League F-word Instagram rant
Then you can add in the goal statistics which are frightening. So far this season, City has scored 142 goals in 49 matches — that’s just one fewer than the 143 it managed in the whole of last season.
Sergio Aguero, the Premier League’s top scorer on 18, has been ably assisted by the likes of Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and the wonderfully talented David Silva, who seems to get better with each passing year.
Fernandinho, the man who keeps City ticking over while screening the defense, has been outstanding once again.
But there are challenges up ahead, not least of all the prospect of facing Tottenham three times in 11 days with two legs of a Champions League quarterfinal and a Premier League clash on the horizon.
There’s also the small matter of a trip to Old Trafford to face rival Manchester United on April 24, as well tricky trips to Crystal Palace and Burnley.
“Believe me, to get to the international break and go into April with only a month and a half to go and still be there is incredible, and it is an honor for me,” City boss Pep Guardiola told the club’s website.
“To have this spirit, desire, this intensity and overcome difficult situations — I told the players that this is going to happen quite often between now and the end of the season where the mentality will be the difference.”
Weight of history
While City has won the Premier League on three occasions in recent years, Liverpool has not won the league title for 29 years.
Back then there wasn’t even a Premier League, simply a Division One. There have been near misses both in 2009 under Rafael Benitez when Liverpool finished second, and again in 2014 under Brendan Rodgers when the Merseyside team collapsed in dramatic fashion at the last, but fans will hope this current generation can go one better.
Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool has emerged as one of the most exciting attacking forces in European football while also boasting the best defensive record in the Premier League this season.
Much of that is down to the performances of central defender Virgil van Dijk, the Dutch defender who has firmly established himself as one of the best in Europe.
A number of eyebrows were raised when Liverpool shelled out $99 million for van Dijk, a world record fee for a defender, in December 2017.
But the former Southampton and Celtic defender has been outstanding, along with the team’s two full-backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, both of whom have been hugely impressive.
Behind them, Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson, who was signed for a reported $88.5 million in July last year, has kept the highest number of clean sheets in the Premier League this season.
And then there’s the forward line of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino — the front three who were instrumental in Liverpool’s run to the final of last year’s Champions League final.
Mane in particular has been in fine form of late, scoring 20 goals in all competition including two in the Champions League second-leg win over Bayern Munich.
The Senegal striker has scored 11 goals in his past 11 games, a run of form that has seen him linked with Spanish giant Real Madrid.”He (Mane) has been brilliant the whole season, and in these last few games he has been needed, because those games were very difficult,” former Liverpool player Luis Garcia told the club’s website.
“The opponents were tight at the back and it was difficult to get chances. I think he’s been brilliant, so quick, so good with his feet, the skill that he’s got is fantastic.
“Sometimes in the past he had a few chances and couldn’t score, but now he’s scoring all of them because he is focused. He knows that the team needs those goals, and I think it’s brilliant that the team can call on him.”
READ: Liverpool sees of Bayern as Messi inspires BarcaREAD: Liverpool to face Porto in Champions League quarterfinal
What the fans say
John Gibbons from the Anfield Wrap says Liverpool fans are feeling positive ahead of the run-in, though the home game with Chelsea does raise some concerns.
“I think there’s a generally positive feeling from Liverpool fans at the moment with the thought that City will drop points,” he told CNN.
“If they win their last eight games then fair play to them but they’ve got some difficult games, like going to Manchester United, and the games against Spurs in the league and Champions League.
“Our games aren’t too bad but I think there’s a bit of an eerie feel about the Chelsea match. There are still memories of the 2013/14 season when they came and won at Anfield while we were going for the league and broke our hearts, so that might make people nervous.
“There’s also the fact they’re a very good side and Eden Hazard always brings his A game against us. But there’s a general feeling that if we can keep winning our games we can do it.”
READ: Is VAR ‘killing’ football?READ: City under investigation by UEFA over possible financial wrongdoing
Steven Allweis, who runs the City blog, ‘View from a Blue’ believes the defending champion is in pole position going into the final furlong.
“Given the turnaround in the past couple of months, momentum is completely with us,” Allweis told CNN.
“Liverpool could have been 10 points clear not that long ago, so to see them stutter and to see us win six on the bounce in the league and pile on the pressure is a source of confidence, as is the fact we have done it before, have a manager who is a relentless winner, and have key players returning from injuries.
“Clearly, it will be tight. Liverpool have managed to grind out wins all season without often appearing to be at their best, so fair play to them — but we have so many match-winners across the squad and are so accustomed to getting the job done that I believe we will be fine in the end.”
What happens next?
Manchester City can go back to the top of the table on Saturday if it can win at struggling Fulham.
City Travels to Craven Cottage to face a Fulham side with the worst defense in the league, having conceded 70 goals in 31 matches.
Liverpool faces a far tougher test on Sunday when it hosts third-place Tottenham at Anfield.
Both teams face difficult games before the end of the season.
Liverpool plays Chelsea at home on April 14, while there’s also a potentially tricky fixture away at Newcastle, coached by former Liverpool boss Benitez, on Saturday May 4.
There are away games at Southampton and Cardiff, as well as a home meeting with bottom of the table Huddersfield.
Visit cnn.com/sport for more News and videos
City, which has played a game less, will also be wary of tripping up in the final straight.
Guardiola’s side hosts Tottenham in the league on April 20 before making the short journey across Manchester to face United four days later.
There are also potential banana skins with away games at Crystal Palace and Burnley and a home tie with Leicester City.
On the final day, City is away at Brighton while Liverpool is at home to Wolves.