Only one point separated champions Manchester City and runners-up Liverpool in the Premier League last season.
Both sides have seen significant summer transfer activity – both arrivals and departures – and another titanic title battle is expected.
Ahead of Saturday’s Community Shield meeting at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, BBC Sport takes a look at how they are preparing for the upcoming season.
The new comers
Scoring goals in the Premier League last season wasn’t exactly a big deal for City and Liverpool – they scored 99 and 94 goals respectively, while the league’s second-highest tally was Chelsea’s 76.
However, both teams spent a lot of money on their forward line.
Having a quality, well-rounded striker has long been a talking point for City and they ended that talk by signing Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund in a deal worth €51m.
The Norwegian is only 22 but has been prolific for club and country for quite some time. Haaland scored 20 goals in 21 games for Norway and left Dortmund after scoring 86 goals in 89 games.
Big things are also expected from Argentina striker Julian Alvarez. The 22-year-old joined River Plate in January but stayed at the club on loan and only properly linked with City since July. He was tipped as a potential successor to Sergio Aguero.
Moreover, manager Pep Guardiola has strengthened his midfield with the signing of 26-year-old England international Kalvin Phillips from Leeds for 45 million euros.
Liverpool’s main signing this summer was Uruguay striker Darwin Nunez, who joined Benfica for a club record €85million.
The 23-year-old has adapted well since moving from South America to Europe and scored 34 goals in 41 appearances for the Portuguese side last season.
The Reds have also signed young Portuguese striker Fabio Carvalho from Fulham and 18-year-old Scottish right-back Calvin Ramsay from Aberdeen.
Liverpool needed to bolster their attacking options given the departure of Sadio Mane after six trophy-filled seasons at Anfield.
Despite being offered a new contract after scoring 23 goals in all competitions last season, the Senegal striker has decided to move on and join German giants Bayern Munich for 35 million euros – and his goals will certainly be missed.
Other notable departures include Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino.
Manchester City’s star departure was Raheem Sterling.
The England striker joined Chelsea in a €50million deal in July, leaving City with a record 131 goals in 339 games, including 13 in the Premier League last season.
City will also come up against another of their former players next campaign, with Gabriel Jesus having joined Arsenal in the summer for 45 million euros.
The Brazilian striker had never been prolific at City – he scored 58 goals in 159 Premier League games – but he provided eight league assists last season, the record for any player at the club along with Kevin de Bruyne .
How was the pre-season?
Reading too much of pre-season results is always a mistake and the friendly schedule has been lighter than usual with the World Cup coming up in November. However, with both teams sporting major new signings, fans will naturally have been looking to see how they fared.
Liverpool toured Asia and Europe, while Manchester City traveled to the United States for a few fixtures.
Jurgen Klopp’s side kicked off their pre-season with a 4-0 loss to Manchester United in Thailand – a game in which Nunez made his debut and had a moment to forget as he missed an open goal.
The Reds followed that up with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace in Singapore as Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah scored, before Nunez netted four against RB Leipzig.
However, Nunez was then taken off at half-time as Liverpool lost 1-0 to Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday.
City, meanwhile, have played two games in the United States – against Club America and Bayern Munich.
They beat the former 2-1 with De Bruyne scoring twice, before Haaland scored his first goal for the club against Bayern, scoring after 12 minutes in a 1-0 win.
Who are their strongest teams?
Injuries aside, the Community Shield should provide an indication of what Guardiola and Klopp consider to be their strongest XI.
As the Premier League season kicks off on August 5, who would you be in your squad for the first game? You can choose below.
Predict Manchester City’s starting XI for their next game – don’t forget you can change formation!
Predict Liverpool’s starting XI for their next game – don’t forget you can change the formation!
Who do you think will win the title?
Are City or Liverpool the favorites to win the title this season, or will someone else revise last season’s runaway top two? Let us know in the comments section below.
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