There’s a sense of deja vu this weekend, as Liverpool and Man City fight it out for Premier League glory just as they did three years ago.
Doesn’t May 2019 feel like a lifetime ago now?
Covid was still roughly a year away, Harvey Elliott was still in school and the Reds were yet to win a trophy under Jurgen Klopp.
So much has happened since then, both in a footballing and non-footballing sense, with Liverpool finally winning the Premier League – not to mention lifting five other trophies along the way.
As the Reds and City go into the final weekend of 2021/22 almost neck-and-neck, memories of the same scenario happening three years ago have come flooding back.
Here we take a look back to the final day in 2018/19.
The final-day outlook
With 37 matches played, City and Liverpool went into their 38th and final fixture with 95 and 94 points, respectively.
That’s five points better off than this season, which speaks volumes about both sides’ level that campaign.
Divock Origi‘s dramatic late header at Newcastle had kept Jurgen Klopp‘s side in the fight, before Vincent Kompany’s winner at home to Leicester delivered the most painful punch to the gut imaginable.
The two rivals had produced remarkable levels of consistency going into the final day – City had won 13 league games in a row – as the Reds hosted Wolves and City headed to Brighton.
The sun was out, and much like this Sunday’s action, it had the potential to be dramatic.
Eighty-three seconds of pure joy!
While Liverpool ultimately didn’t end up winning the title, they will always have that one glorious minute or so that occurred when Brighton took the lead at the Amex.
Glenn Murray headed the Seagulls in front with 27 minutes on the clock – Sadio Mane had already put the Reds 1-0 up – and Reds fans rose in anticipation.
The roar inside Anfield when news emerged that City were losing clearly had an effect on the team, with play almost coming to a standstill and concentration momentarily lost.
Liverpool XI vs. Wolves: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Mane, Origi
In fact, such was the level of hysteria, some false information being fed to supporters from those not at the game claimed that Brighton had added a second.
Sadly, Liverpool could only bask in the glory for 83 seconds, as Sergio Aguero levelled the scores immediately.
It was a dispiriting moment, with the Reds badly in need of Brighton holding on for longer than roughly the 800-metre record!
As soon as City had equalised, it was hard not to feel a sense of inevitability about what would happen next, especially with Aymeric Laporte putting Pep Guardiola’s men in front before the break.
For Liverpool, it was still a case of getting their own job done, but there was no denying that the Anfield atmosphere was more muted in the second half.
Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan both found the net to put City in cruise control, effectively ending the Reds’ dream for another year, while Mane added a second late in the day against Wolves.
City beat Brighton 4-1. Liverpool beat Wolves 2-0. The title went to City.
To finish on 97 points and not be champions felt cruel.
In most other eras, Liverpool would have cruised to glory, but they again had to settle for runner-up.
Some may point towards the away draws with weak Everton and Man United teams in the spring costing Liverpool, but they really couldn’t have done much more and were simply beaten by an equally special side.
“We shall not be moved”
By the time the Wolves game was in its final stages, Liverpool’s fans were back in great voice, accepting their fate and showing appreciation for the players on the pitch.
There was no sense of despair, but instead, a feeling that great memories were edging closer all the time under Klopp.
The manager himself said after the game that his side would become “one of the best to play for Liverpool ever,” telling fans: “We will go again, 100 percent.”
He wasn’t wrong, as always.
Liverpool’s efforts were applauded after the final whistle, as Klopp and his players did their customary lap of the pitch, but there was still another chapter to write in the season.
The small matter of a Champions League final meeting with Tottenham was on the horizon, after all.
The Reds prevailed against Spurs in Madrid, sealing Klopp’s first trophy as manager and erasing the heartbreak suffered in Kyiv just 12 months earlier.
? If I told you all the positives of this team, we'd be here until an hour before Madrid… 97 points in incredible. Only because City is there it's not enough. pic.twitter.com/OXcnxk3VLO
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) May 12, 2019
In the three years since, the German has built a genuine Anfield dynasty, with an unprecedented quadruple still on offer in the week ahead.
There are certainly eery comparisons to be made between 2018/19 and 2021/22, in terms of the title race and a Champions League final to come, but could this season end with an even bigger triumph?
Stranger things have happened in football.
No matter what happens on Sunday… we’re still going to get that amazing moment at full time where we get to send the players off to a European Cup final ??
That lap of honour at anfield when there’s one game still to play and it’s a cup final ? pic.twitter.com/ZL1UEKo1Vi
— Belinder (@_bubblxs) May 17, 2022
For Liverpool to be crowned champions, they need to enjoy an almost-perfect day, with everything that could possibly go wrong for City going wrong.
There’s the Steven Gerrard factor, though, not to mention Philippe Coutinho and Danny Ings‘ past Reds allegiances, and football absolutely adores a narrative.
Let battle commence…