It is truly a blessing to have two such extraordinary teams push each other to their physical limits week-in-week-out, and off the evidence of today, the country can expect both heavyweights to deliver blow after blow in another enthralling and anticipated Premier League season.
This simmering, epic and evolving rivalry never fails to disappoint, and it can only be expected that this newly profound rivalry will continue to heat up at a simmering rate.
It was inevitable that Manchester City and Liverpool would push each other all the way yet again when they met up in their latest chapter.
The story of the match
In the end, it was the English champions who retained the Community Shield with second-choice goalkeeper Claudio Bravo the unlikely hero on the day as he saved the crucial spot-kick denying Georginio Wijnaldum as well as a series of formidable saves in normal time to deliver the trophy back to Manchester. The ruthless Citizens converted all five of their penalties to claim their latest victory meaning Pep Guardiola’s team have won each one of the country's previous five domestic trophies.
Despite the spectacle usually being paraded as a glorified curtain-raiser, today’s evidence totally juxtaposed the concept with another enthralling battle between two of England’s biggest hitters.
It poses well that we are certainly set for another outstanding campaign as arguably Europe’s two fiercest teams go to war for a second consecutive season.
The outcome may also unsurprisingly still suggest that City may be the team to beat, but Liverpool laid down an emphatic marker to put their early pre-season hangover swiftly to bed.
If the first-half belonged to the Premier League champions, then the European champions were undeniably the dominant force in the second period. Liverpool struck the woodwork twice, and more goal-line controversy between the two teams came to the fold once again.
In truth, Mohamed Salah should have left the capital with the match ball considering the Egyptian had five or six glorious chances to find the net. Even in injury time, the outstanding Bravo - replacing first-choice Ederson who was on the City bench - denied Salah before the headed rebound was heroically cleared off the line by the hurricane that is Kyle Walker to break Red hearts at the death.
Quite fitting really that small margins would define this latest encounter. It wasn’t quite 12 millimetres as it was at the Etihad in January, but, the skill, the drama, the fine, fine margins were all but evident to see yet again.
Sterling returns to haunt his former team
Raheem Sterling has had his fair share of horror showings against his former team, but it appeared to be the Englishman’s day as he continued where he left off from last season with his first goal against the team that used to cheer his name to give the Citizens an early lead and Sterling his 101st career goal.
The City winger started out as centre forward, then was forced to return to his familar duties on the left-flank covering for Leroy Sane who was forced off with an early knock after twisting his knee awkwardly.
It remains to be seen whether it will be the German international’s last appearance considering Bayern Munich’s relentless pursuit to bring the talented youngster back to his homeland or whether the injury is serious enough to end the interest altogether.
Sterling dazzled and persistently tore at Trent Alexander-Arnold who really struggled to swat away the annoying wasp that was Sterling as City enjoyed acres of space on both flanks of the field.
However, much to Sterling’s credit, he did fluff the biggest opportunity of the match to seal the game in the second half after running clear through on goal with the incoming Walker to his left only to be caught in two minds and gift the ball to the gathering Alisson.
The opening goal came from a well-worked free-kick as Walker jerked a teasing ball towards the right-hand side of the Liverpool penalty area where Oleksandr Zinchenko was lurking to head across goal. David Silva hooked the incoming ball and Sterling guided home a side-footed shot from close-range which squirmed from Alisson’s grasp as the ball slowly trickled over the line.
It was to no surprise that such formidable and resilient opponents would get the blood boiling and this was seen when Guardiola was cautioned by referee Martin Atkinson and received a booking - under new protocols brought in this season - after his furious outburst when D.Silva went down following a challenge from Joe Gomez that certainly didn’t merit such an angry reaction.
Rodri showcased why the Spaniard will be such a superb addition to the Premier League whilst Liverpool’s potent attack demonstrated why the Reds struggled to get results in their recent pre-season tour of America as well as the horror-show defeat to Napoli in Edinburgh.
Roberto Firmino and Salah had only been back in training five days ago, but due to their hectic summer periods dominated by International duties, it was easy to see why both are already up to the pace.
There were chances throughout for both teams - particularly Salah - who spurned a host of first-half opportunities and even failed to hit the target on three occasions.
A loose pass from John Stones was intercepted by Firmino who found Salah whose first-time tame shot slammed wide of the post failing to test Bravo.
He later proved too strong and clever an opponent for Zinchenko bewildering the make-shift left-back before heading goalwards only for his angled shot to brush close to the inside post.
City also had chances to double their ascendancy when Alisson denied Sane after Sterling forced a rare mistake from the usually faultless Gomez, robbing his international compatriot and teeing up Sane, who minutes later hobbled off towards the sidelines.
Liverpool seemed a different beast in the second half and pressed hard for their equaliser. The Reds must have thought lady-luck was against them when Virgi van Dijk’s effort crashed up then down off the crossbar - with only half the ball crossing the goal-line.
Fine margins again came into play when Salah thundered a shot of Bravo’s right post before the same move ended in a smart save from the impenetrable Chilean international.
Just as it seemed all hope was fading for Liverpool, hope rekindled when a free-kick was worked towards the towering Van Dijk who orchestrated a delightful ball from centre-back to centre-back finding Joel Matip who calmly slammed home the header to send the Liverpool end into raptures.
Wembley suddenly felt like Anfield, and it seemed increasingly likely that Liverpool would snatch the win when another substitute, Naby Keita, was presented a glorious chance but his weak effort was directed straight at Bravo.
This latest cat and mouse affair reached a climax when Walker’s outstanding goal-line clearance took the match to penalties and that’s where the contest was settled as yet another piece of silverware was decorated in sky-blue ribbons.