Liverpool host Manchester City at Anfield in the final game of the calendar year in a potential six-pointer between two of the better bets for the title.
Liverpool are a transformed side under Jurgen Klopp. It seems like the German’s charismatic style has rubbed off on the Reds and how. Liverpool showed some incredible fighting spirit on Boxing day to recover from an early deficit to overcome Stoke City 4-1.
Manchester City had a tough task on Boxing day to whittle down a sturdy Hull City side. Mike Phelan’s men not only held the Citizens off but took the game to them on numerous occasions but a bad challenge from Andrew Robertson handed City a penalty and opened the floodgates that saw City put 3 past their struggling opponents.
Both the teams go into the match with the aim of maintaining or cutting short the distance between them and runaway leaders Chelsea. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the last Premier League fixture of 2016.
Team News & Tactics
Liverpool talisman Philippe Coutinho is unlikely to gain match fitness in time to feature against Manchester City despite recovering from his ankle ligament injury. But, while Liverpool have been dangerous in attack, even in the absence of Coutinho, Joel Matip, who is also out with an ankle ligament injury, is likely to be a bigger miss for Klopp.
Danny Ings is still a long-term absentee while Marko Grujic is working on his match-fitness. With Joel Matip out injured, Ragnar Klavan is poised to take up the role as the partner of Dejan Lovren in the centre of the defence.
Also, Daniel Sturridge’s impressive cameo against Stoke City might just put him ahead of Divock Origi and hand the England international a start, which has been hard to come by for Sturridge this season.
Roberto Firmino, who has been charged with a drunk driving case, is due to appear in court to respond to the charges a few hours before the match and Liverpool fans all around the world would be hoping that does not affect the Brazilian’s performance on the night.
Liverpool’s high pressing game is likely to test the pass-friendly system of Pep Guardiola.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner; Can, Henderson, Lallana; Mane, Sturridge, Firmino
Manchester City FC
Argentine sensation Sergio Aguero returns to action after serving his four-match suspension for a horrible challenge on David Luiz in City’s match against Chelsea. The striker would be raring to go and end 2016 on a high, especially with Gabriel Jesus set to join the club in January.
John Stones is set to be available for selection again, despite limping off early on against Hull City. The erroneous defender, though, might be dropped to the bench by Pep Guardiola, as has been witnessed in recent times.
Leroy Sane missed the Hull City game and is set to still be on the sidelines for the important game at Anfield while Vincent Kompany is still out with a knee injury.
The onus will be on the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and David Silva to provide the ammunition for Sergio Aguero to finish while Yaya Toure could just prove to be the trump card for Pep Guardiola, with the Ivorian playing a winning role in several matches after being reinstated into the first-team setup at the Etihad.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Bravo; Zabaleta, Otamendi, Kolarov, Clichy; Fernandinho, Yaya Toure; Sterling, Silva, De Bruyne; Aguero
1. Both Teams to Score @ 1.53
2. Liverpool over 1.5 cards @ 1.61
3. Over 10.5 Corners @ 1.83
1. Manchester City win @ 3.10
2. Yaya Toure to score anytime @ 4.00
1. Liverpool have won the previous three Premier League fixtures against Manchester City. The last time they won four straight games against the Citizens was in 1981.
2. Liverpool have never failed to register on the scoresheet in 19 home games against Manchester City.
3. Manchester City have failed to find the net in only 1 of their last 26 fixtures in the Premier League.
4. Adam Lallana has been involved in and been a part of more goals than any other Premier League midfielder this season, scoring 7 and assisting 6.
5. Sergio Aguero is yet to score at Anfield in the Premier League.
Liverpool FC 2 – 3 Manchester City FC
Despite all the signs pointing towards a Liverpool win, we have actually gone with a narrow away win for Pep Guardiola in what is expected to be a high-scoring game. Both the teams are expected to score and Manchester City’s recent overtures have given us the confidence to tip the Citizens to shock Liverpool, who are slight favourites going into the game.
City’s narrow win over Arsenal highlighted their progress and a win against Liverpool could just be the next big step towards Guardiola-izing not just the blue half of Manchester but the Premier League in the long-term.