Manchester City vs Liverpool Preview - Etihad bears witness to the first title-rivals clash of the season

Manchester City vs Liverpool Preview - Etihad bears witness to the first title-rivals clash of the season

THE DETAILS

Venue – Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Referee – Craig Pawson

Date & Time – Sunday, November 8th @ 16:30

Current Odds – Manchester City 19/20, Draw 16/5, Liverpool 23/10

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Five points separate these sides as they prepare to do battle at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday evening. Liverpool look well-primed to push for the Premier League title again and City will certainly rise among the placings as the weeks progress.

Both sides will see this weekend’s clash as the perfect opportunity to put pressure on the other in terms of any potential title race in the coming months. Whoever can snatch the win will go into the upcoming international break brim-full of confidence as the league table begins to take shape.

FORM

Manchester City Form

Manchester City are tenth in the Premier League with three wins from their opening six games. They have won all three of their Champions League group games so far.

Pep Guardiola’s men, like Liverpool, lost just one Premier League game so far – going down 5-2 at home to Leicester City. Since then, City have gone 8 games unbeaten in all competitions, winning six and drawing two.

City welcome back Gabriel Jesus during the week as the Brazil international striker scored in his side’s 3-0 win over Olympiacos.

Liverpool Form

Liverpool have responded brilliantly to the 7-2 hammering they suffered at Villa Park back in early October. The Reds then drew 2-2 at Everton, in a game they dominated and should have won with efficient officiating. However, following that Merseyside derby and Virgil van Dijk’s season-ending injury, Jürgen Klopp’s men have won five games on the trot.

Three of those wins were in the Champions League with Sheffield United and West Ham United beaten in the Premier League. Perhaps the most recent game – Tuesday night’s 5-0 mauling of Atalanta in Bergamo – was the most impressive. In fact, it was one of the most complete performances from Liverpool in recent months.

Diogo Jota was on fire, scoring a fantastic hat-trick with Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah also chipping in with a goal each. What City will be concerned about, however, is how The Reds looked settled all over the pitch. Even in defence where Van Dijk is, of course, sorely missed.

Liverpool are one point clear of Leicester City at the top of the Premier League and already five points above both Ajax and Atalanta after just three games in their Champions League group.

TEAM NEWS

Manchester City Team News

Sergio Agüero, Fernandinho and Benjamin Mendy will both miss this weekend’s game at Anfield.

The good news for Pep Guardiola was that Gabriel Jesus is back fit and firing.

City will probably stick with their 4-3-3 formation with Rúben Dias and Aymeric Laporte in central defence.

Midfield could be the creative yet stable trio of Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri and Bernardo Silva.

As already mentioned, Gabriel Jesus is back to full fitness so should spearhead City’s attack with Ferrán Torres and Raheem Sterling providing the width.

Liverpool Team News

Liverpool are without Virgil van Dijk, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Fabinho for this game. It’s hoped that Fabinho will return to full fitness after the international break. Van Dijk is out for the season and Oxlade-Chamberlain is still reportedly a few weeks away from being available.

Thiago Alcântara faces a late fitness test to see can he play any part against Manchester City.

Joël Matip, Kostas Tsimikas and Naby Keïta all returned to the matchday squad for Liverpool’s 5-0 win in Italy during the week. Tsimikas and Keita even came on late in the game while it seems Klopp didn’t want to risk Matip in any way before this Sunday’s game.

Klopp has tried out a 4-2-3-1 shape to include the in-form Diogo Jota in recent weeks. He will probably revert to a 4-3-3 formation against City to give The Reds more stability in midfield. If that is the case, then expect to see Roberto Firmino and Naby Keïta starting. Firmino could be brought back in to hassle and harry the City defenders into submission.

Of course, it seems absolutely crazy to think that Klopp might put hat-trick hero Diogo Jota on the bench but that could well be the case on Sunday. You can be sure that if he doesn’t start, Jota will be given at least half an hour in the second half.

Joël Matip should take the place of Rhys Williams or Nat Phillips alongside Joe Gomez in the centre of the back four.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Manchester City XI (4-3-3) – Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Silva; Torres, Jesus, Sterling

Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, Mané

WHEN THEY LAST MET

City beat Liverpool 4-0 back in July when a still-drunk Liverpool side arrived as newly-crowned Premier League champions. Hungover or not, The Reds will be extremely keen to set the record straight on Sunday.

PREDICTION

MANCHESTER CITY 2 – 3 LIVERPOOL

Liverpool could take all three points on Sunday and open up an eight-point lead ahead of City before the international break. Jurgen Klopp’s Mighty Reds had the perfect preparation with a fantastic team performance and 5-0 win away to Atalanta earlier this week. Confidence will be high among the Liverpool squad and they know they have been the most consistent English Premier League team for around 18 months now. I think Liverpool will win in a high-scoring affair.