Manchester City were “rattled by Liverpool’s staying power in the title race” this season, according to John Aldridge.
Liverpool were primed to win their first English top-flight title since 1990 as they held a points advantage over reigning champions City at Christmas, at the end of January and even as late as the start of March.
But City embarked on a wonderful 14-game winning run to pip the Reds by a single point, meaning Jurgen Klopp’s side finished a phenomenal domestic season empty-handed despite recording the third-highest Premier League points total in history.
Despite not dropping a point since January 29, Aldridge believes his former side “rattled” Pep Guardiola’s men despite them “playing to different rules to the rest of the Premier League financially”.
“Liverpool finished with a total that would have left them seven points ahead of the Arsenal team that went through the entire 2003/04 Premier League season unbeaten, which sums up how bloody brilliant they were over the last ten months,’ he told the Daily Express.
“In the end, the only defeat they suffered came in that away game at Man City, on a night when Liverpool had a goal ruled out in the game by 11.7mm.
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“In the end, that tiny margin may well represent how close they were to ending the club’s 29-year wait for a league title.
“They fought so hard, turned draws into wins time and again and proved they were a team worthy of winning the Premier League.
“But they are unfortunate to be operating in an era when one team are playing to different rules to the rest of the Premier League financially.
“City will spend big again this summer and bulk up what is an already incredible squad and by the time the Premier League gets underway once again in August, the challenge facing Liverpool and the rest of England’s top clubs will be monumental once more.
“Guardiola and his players must have been rattled by Liverpool’s staying power in the title race, with Guardiola and his players fully aware that they have a rival who will come at them again next season.
“Yet the reality for Liverpool is that they need to achieve virtual perfection if they are to end what will be a 30-year wait for a league title next year and the longer that barren run continues, the harder it will be to end it.”