Liverpool , Man City will fuel a heavyweight battle for supremacy

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Manchester City have Premier League immortality in their sights as they start their title defence this weekend , but Liverpool ’ s burning desire to get their hands on the trophy will fuel a heavyweight battle for supremacy .

In the blue corner , treble winners City is at the peak of their powers and look capable of enjoying a period of sustained dominance not seen since Manchester United earned three successive Premier League titles from 2007 to 2009.

But in the red corner , European champions Liverpool , chasing a first English title since 1990, have more than a puncher ’ s chance of ending City ’ s reign after pushing Pep Guardiola’ s side all the way to the final day last season .

The first blows will be landed this week as Liverpool kick off the new Premier League campaign against promoted Norwich at Anfield on Friday , before City head to West Ham on Saturday .

Sunday’ s no- holds- barred Community Shield clash showed the growing rivalry between England’ s pre -eminent teams , with City beating Liverpool on penalties following a 1 – 1 draw that underlined how little there is to separate the sides .

Adding Atletico Madrid ’ s Rodri for a club – record £ 63 million ($ 77 million ) gives Guardiola an even greater embarrassment of riches .

With five major trophies over the past two seasons — including Premier League crowns clinched with unprecedented hauls of 100 and then 98 points — City are the bookmakers’ favourites to become only the second club to win a hat – trick of English titles in the past 35 years after United did it twice .

Guardiola is a keen student of football history and has revelled in City ’ s record-breaking feats , so the opportunity to further bolster his team ’ s credentials as one of England ’ s all- time greats will not be lost on the Spaniard .

Although City have never won the Champions League and Guardiola last lifted it back in 2011 with Barcelona , he said domestic bliss remains his preferred passion.

“ To maintain the health and focus of the team , the most important thing is the Premier League , ” Guardiola said .

“ It is the standout competition because it is every weekend .

In the Champions League, many things can happen in one or two games.

“We will be closer to achieving in Europe when we have more Premier League titles.

That is a nice process and the right process to do at Manchester City.

“ If I could have one thing this season , right now , it would definitely be the title . ”

It would be a surprise if Liverpool does not make City sweat right to the finish once again after bouncing back from last season ’ s agonising near -miss in the title race by winning their sixth European Cup .

No team has ever gathered more points without winning the Premier League than second – placed Liverpool did last season with their tally of 97.

Jurgen Klopp’ s side lost just once in their 38 league games — crucially that defeat came against City — but their 2 – 0 Champions League final win over Tottenham ensured there was no title hangover .

Liverpool had the Premier League ’ s meanest defence last season and boast an attack featuring two of the campaign ’ s three leading scorers in Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane .

Despite that wealth of talent , Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum admits making a fast start is essential to stop City establishing a stranglehold at the top .

“ You just have to collect as many points as possible , especially in the beginning , and try to build a team who will be even better at the end of the season, ” Wijnaldum said .

“ We can try and do even better than last season .

Basically, it starts now because now we have the whole team together. ”

Challengers to City and Liverpool are likely to be thin on the ground .

Since winning the Europa League , Chelsea has lost star playmaker Eden Hazard to Real Madrid and hired an idolised but inexperienced new manager in Frank Lampard , who is working under the club ’ s transfer ban.

Guardiola suggests Manchester United are contenders after making £ 80- million – man Harry Maguire the world ’ s most expensive defender and landing young talents Aaron Wan – Bissaka and Daniel James .

But it is hard to imagine United , who ended 32 points adrift of City in sixth place , bridging that gap this season.

Arsenal have the look of pretenders rather than contenders , while Tottenham have not invested enough to satisfy boss Mauricio Pochettino despite a paying a club record of around £ 54 million for Lyon ’ s Tanguy Ndombele.

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