Liverpool and Manchester City resume their rivalry for top spot when they go head to head in the Premier League this weekend, while Chelsea and Manchester United aim to get their title challenges back on track.
Under Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, City and Liverpool have become the dominant forces in English football, sharing the past four Premier League titles between them.
City, who have won three of those, delivered a warning shot to the pretenders to their crown with a hugely impressive 1-0 win at Chelsea last weekend.
But it is Liverpool who boast the only unbeaten record after six games and find themselves a point clear of City, Chelsea and United, even though they dropped two points at Brentford last week.
City ended their long wait for a win away to Liverpool in emphatic fashion with a 4-1 victory in February but they have not won in front of a crowd at Anfield since 2003.
Fatigue could take its toll on Guardiola’s men after a draining week. Three days after their statement win at Stamford Bridge, the English champions were beaten 2-0 by Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital.
Liverpool, by contrast, were able to ease off the gas long before the end of a 5-1 Champions League win over Porto.
However, the Reds will be without right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad announced Thursday with a groin problem.
“Obviously when you have something with your muscle, it’s not likely for Sunday,” said Klopp. “No muscle injury heals that quickly.”
Pep Guardiola said his players won’t be intimidated when Manchester City visit Anfield and insisted they can beat Liverpool in their home stadium whether supporters are there or not.
City won 4-1 at Anfield last season — their first victory at Liverpool’s home ground for 18 years — while fans were locked out because of the UK’s coronavirus restrictions.
“It’s not about intimidation,” Guardiola said. “It’s about the quality of the opponent. When you don’t win it’s because they are so good. We try to win games with or without spectators. But last season we won.
“I’m very pleased Anfield is full again and we can go there to play a game. It’s nice that the people are back and we can enjoy a fantastic atmosphere there.
“Hopefully we can handle it in a good way. I’m pretty sure the players would prefer to play with fans at Anfield than without.
“I don’t know the reasons why we didn’t win at Anfield over the 18 years. Over my five years, it was because they are an exceptional team.”
Meanwhile, United needed all 95 minutes to edge past Villarreal in their midweek Champions League game, emerging as victors thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s dramatic stoppage-time winner.
The late intervention from the Portuguese superstar stopped the rot for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men after a run of three defeats in four games.
But in truth United were lacklustre again, relying on goalkeeper David de Gea, who produced a string of vital saves.
Everton head to Old Trafford level on points with Solskjaer’s men after an impressive start to life under Rafael Benitez.
The Toffees are more than capable of following the example set by West Ham and Aston Villa, who have both won at the Theatre of Dreams in recent weeks, unless United show significant improvement.
Elsewhere, Chelsea made a brilliant start to the season under Thomas Tuchel, picking up where they left off after beating Manchester City in the Champions League final in May.
City exacted a measure of revenge at Stamford Bridge last week and Chelsea slipped up again in the Champions League in midweek, losing 1-0 to Juventus.
But Tuchel’s men appear to have a relatively straightforward task as they seek to return to winning ways against winless Southampton at home.
In the meantime, just three weeks after topping the Premier League table, Nuno Espirito Santo’s position as Tottenham manager has been questioned by fans following three dismal league defeats on the spin.
Spurs have lost to Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Arsenal by a combined score of 9-1 to fall back into the bottom half of the table.
Nuno is yet to conjure the best from star forward Harry Kane, who failed to force a move away from his boyhood club during the transfer window.
And he has so far failed to instil the defensive organisation that was his calling card in three seasons at Wolves.
Another defeat when in-form Villa visit the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday would leave the Spurs faithful restless over the international break.