Manchester City vs Liverpool Preview: Top Four Battle Turns to Manchester
Liverpool face a shaken Manchester City side on Sunday in a huge clash that could play a big role in deciding which teams finish in the Premier League’s top four come May.
Match: Manchester City vs Liverpool
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Date: Sunday 19th March
Referee: Michael Oliver
Time: 16:40 BST
After failing to win a Premier League game this year until February, Liverpool appear to have stumbled towards some form, having won three of their last four games.
Despite the victory over Tottenham Hotspur having been set-back by the defeat against Leicester City, two consecutive games at Anfield afforded the Reds a chance to make it three wins out of four, which they did by beating Arsenal and then Burnley.
With those around them playing cup games, Liverpool have now played more than all their direct rivals, but do enjoy having 55 points on the board, placing them in fourth as it stands. Depending on other results, a win at the weekend could put them into second. For how long, is another matter.
Of course, they will face tough opposition in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side. Despite Klopp’s Liverpool having not lost to anyone else in the top seven so far this season, Sunday’s game will likely provide the biggest challenge so far.
Third in the league, Manchester City were unbeaten in 11 before losing 3-1 at AS Monaco on Wednesday, crashing out of the Champions League. They’ve only responded to a defeat with victory three times in seven attempts so far this season, so it’ll be interesting to see if Guardiola can turn his players around quickly.
Liverpool will be praying that Roberto Firmino is fit to return, having missed the game against Burnley. Firmino offers something completely different to Divock Origi, something that was so key to the victory at the Etihad last season. Dejan Lovren has been touted for a return after missing a few games recently. Liverpool absentees are likely to include Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge.
Battered and bruised after their trip to France, City could see a change in defence if Guardiola decides to bring in Otamendi for Kolarov, possibly moving the Serbian back into his favoured left-back role at the expense of Gael Clichy. Yaya Toure may hope for a recall after he was surprisingly benched against Monaco, whilst captain Vincent Kompany remains sidelined.
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool capped off a fantastic points haul in 2016 by beating Man City 1-0 at Anfield on New Year’s Eve. A fantastic atmosphere was met in response by a fantastic team defensive performance, City struggling to get anywhere near the Reds’ goal after Georginio Wijnaldum’s early opening goal, one which would eventually get the three points.
PREDICTION: MANCHESTER CITY 2-2 LIVERPOOL
Goals seem likely between two teams that star at putting the ball in the net but struggle to keep it out. Given City are at home and Liverpool thrive on going away to big guns, a more open game than December’s it to be expected. It’s tough to call either way, so I’m going for a draw.