Manchester City v Liverpool - The PL Preview
This used to be a game I would relish, in the knowledge that Liverpool would take the fight to their most recent domestic rivals. Though the silverware count is very much in favour of Pep Guardiola and City, so is the amount of Premier League charges that have come their way. If not for the clear and obvious overspending (of the reigning English champions), the Reds would have a far greater haul for themselves. This is something that will be reviewed in the next year or so, yet will do little to impact this upcoming game.
The notorious lunch time kick off has continued to be a thorn in the Liverpool side, though the players do seem to elevate their performances for higher quality league games. With the Sky Blues chasing another league title, they will be looking to further dent the Reds’ top four charge. Despite a common theory that these two sides would be battling each other for this year’s league crown, that summer prediction is nothing more than a distant memory. The Etihad club currently has 61 points from 27 games played, whilst sitting second in the table. This is a must win game for Pep’s men, with Arsenal eight points clear of their nearest rivals. Liverpool loiter in 6th position, with just 42 points taken from their 26 games played. Amazing losses have littered their season, with a dramatic drop off seeing them struggling to qualify for next seasons Champions League.
In terms of availability, Phil Foden is definitely out. Erling Haaland is a slight doubt (with a suspected groin complaint), though should still start the game. Their last game before the International break saw them hammer Burnley 6-0, after dismantling RB Leipzig 7-0 in the Champions League last 16. Their last league game saw them overcome Crystal Palace 0-1, in a game that they were only able to win by way of a late penalty.
The starting line-up will see Ederson start in goal, with a likely back four of Kyle Walker, Nathan Aké, Rúben Dias and either Aymeric Laporte or Manuel Akanji. A midfield three will comprise Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri and İlkay Gündoğan. Up front will surely see Haaland fit to start, with Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva either side of him. John Stones is the only other likely player to come in, which would see a slight alteration in their formation.
Liverpool come into this game as inconsistent as their entire season. Back-to-back 1-0 away losses to Real Madrid and Bournemouth, followed their historic 7-0 destruction of Manchester United. The reds have been unable to find continuing rhythm or form, therefore it’s impossible to predict how the team will perform.
In terms of injuries, there are more questions than confirmed cases. Calvin Ramsay and Stefan Bajčetić are definitely out, whereas Joe Gomez, Konstantinos Tsimikas, Thiago and Luis Díaz are doubts. The latter pair are desperately needed by Klopp, therefore, there is a chance that either could make the bench.
Alisson Becker will start in goal, with the common pair of Virgil and Ibrahima Konaté starting ahead of him. Andy Robertson should continue at left-back, whilst Trent Alexander Arnold should also retain his place, after a break away from the England squad. Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Harvey Elliott, should start this game, with only Stefan Bajčetić out for the season. Thiago has failed to recover from his latest injury, whilst Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remain on the fringes. The attack has to see the goal scoring trio of Darwin, Salah and Cody Gakpo retained, with three points an absolute must this Saturday lunch time. With Luis Díaz having been out for so long, it would be a surprise to see him start this game.
The only hope is that some form of intensity can be achieved for Jürgen Klopp’s men. The midfield has been lacking all year, which has seen the defence often set upon. The attack looks disjointed and unfamiliar, therefore only a higher level of tenacity can see the reds get anything from this game. Manchester City are a well-oiled machine that love to tear down lacklustre opponents, therefore it’s hard to see anything other than a comfortable home win.
Player to watch – Alisson Becker
Score Prediction: Manchester City 3 – 1 Liverpool