Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has stoked the fire ahead of Sunday’s crucial Premier League game with Manchester City – and irked plenty of football fans in the process – by declaring the match-up as the greatest rivalry in the history of English football.
The former defender says trying to compare it to the battles between Manchester United and Arsenal in the late 1990s and early 2000s “run out of steam” because it did not extend to the Champions League – with both Liverpool and City on course to face each other in this year’s final.
A winner on Sunday would be top of the table with seven games to play, while a draw would keep City ahead by just one point.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Carragher also dismissed the historic rivalry between Liverpool and United, as well as his old club’s match-ups with Nottingham Forest in the 1970s.
The statement has been jokingly agreed to by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, as when he was asked who made the comment – to the reply that it was Carragher – he said “then yes”, before declining to take a proper view.
“Liverpool versus Manchester City has become the greatest, most intense and highest quality rivalry in English football history,” said Carragher.
“There is a uniqueness to it. This is the first time the two best teams in England are the two best teams in the world, led by the two greatest coaches of their generation.
“I can hear the dissent from Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea fans as I argue this. There are plenty of head-to-heads worthy of comparison.
“Many will claim that the fixtures overseen by Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger at their peak were of similar quality and packed just as much of an emotional punch.
“To me, the parallels run out of steam when applied to European competition.
“Even at the height of their Premier League power – when it was obvious if one club did not end the season champions, the other would – could it be argued that United and Arsenal were the two best teams in Europe?
“Ahead of Real Madrid, Juventus and AC Milan? No, United versus Arsenal was generally a domestic squabble.”
Carragher says the rivalry between Liverpool and City “ticks every box” and believes they are guided by “legendary coaches” in Klopp and Pep Guardiola. The Liverpool boss admits they are pushing each other to extraordinary levels – but was wise enough to steer clear of the debate.
“We push each other to incredible point tallies, madness, I would never have thought these kind of things are possible, especially not in this league.
“The consistency both teams showed in that period is crazy. The closer you get, the more likely it is you can overtake – but we know it’s tough. But everyone else thinks it’s tough when they face us, and that’s really good.”