Manchester City and Liverpool will look to continue their unbeaten start to the season when they face off at Etihad Stadium on Saturday

Club football action finally resumes this weekend with the fortnight-long international break coming to an end. The marquee clash in the Premier League sees two of the favourites to lift the title, Manchester City and Liverpool, take each other on, in a high-profile clash at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s men currently sit fourth in the Premier League table, unbeaten in their first three games with seven points. The hosts come into this match on the back of a hard-fought come-from-behind 2-1 win at Bournemouth, albeit under controversial circumstances.

Liverpool, like their hosts, are also unbeaten after their first three matches and have seven points due to a similar run of results as well, although they are second thanks to a better goal difference. Jurgen Klopp’s men come into this match on the back of an emphatic 4-0 win over Arsenal.

The corresponding fixture, last season, ended in a 1-1 stalemate, with Sergio Aguero and James Milner grabbing a second-half goal for each side. Ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola has the luxury of all of his players coming from the international break injury-free, and is inching closer to boasting a clean bill of health with each passing week. In fact, Ilkay Gundogan remains the only player sidelined with a fitness concern as he continues his rehabilitation from knee injury.

The Manchester City boss, though, will have another absentee from his matchday squad on Saturday in the form of Raheem Sterling. The Englishman was sent off for two bookable offences against Bournemouth. Captain Vincent Kompany is a slight doubt after picking up a knock on Belgium duty, but is expected to feature.

However, Guardiola can recall Kyle Walker to his starting eleven after the defender served his own one-game suspension in the match against Bournemouth. Walker is expected to be restored into the lineup once again as the right-back, with Benjamin Mendy on the opposite side of defence.

Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero is expected to return to the starting eleven after starting the match against the Cherries on the bench, with Sterling unavailable. Bernardo Silva, though, is likely to continue as one of the several creative outlets in the lineup following his impressive debut two weeks ago.

Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Stones, Mendy; David Silva, Fernandinho, De Bruyne; Bernardo Silva, Aguero, Jesus

City

Liverpool

Unlike his counterpart in the Manchester City dugout, Jurgen Klopp has a few injury concerns on his hands. The two major absentees from the Liverpool manager’s squad are Nathaniel Clyne (back) and Adam Lallana (thigh), who are battling long-term injuries and will not be available for selection in the near future.

The big news surrounds Philippe Coutinho though. The wantaway Brazilian, whose move to Barcelona broke down with Liverpool refusing to sell, has been left out of the matchday squad by Klopp, although he has finally returned to training at Melwood this week.

Meanwhile, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is in line to make his Liverpool debut, less than ten days after he sealed a deadline day switch from Arsenal. The newly signed Englishman is believed to be battling the likes of Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum for a place in the starting eleven.

The onus on Saturday, though, will be on the able shoulders of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah. The trio have formed a truly formidable attacking partnership and are promising to be the most prolific combination following their early season exploits. More of the same on Saturday, and Liverpool could brace themselves for victory.

Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Klavan, Moreno; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Liverpool

Key Stats

  • Liverpool are unbeaten against Manchester City under Jurgen Klopp (W3 D1), with the Citizens’ last win coming in August 2014 (3-1 at home).
  • However, Manchester City have lost just one of their last eight Premier League meetings at home against Liverpool (W4 D3) – a 4-1 defeat in November 2015.
  • Manchester City boast a formidable home record, having lost just one of their last 23 Premier League matches at the Etihad Stadium (W13 D9 L1). They have only kept a clean sheet in six of those outings.
  • Liverpool have scored in 13 games in a row against Manchester City in all competitions.
  • Liverpool have lost just one of their last 22 Premier League games against last season’s top seven (W12 D9).

Betting Odds

Favourable Bets:

1. Liverpool Asian Handicap +0.5 @ 2.080

2. Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.50

3. Sadio Mane to score anytime @ 2.87

Underdog Bets:

1. Liverpool Draw No Bet @ 3.00

Player To Watch

Sergio Aguero

A crucial outing. (Photo courtesy - Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

A crucial outing. (Photo courtesy – Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Familiar troubles have arisen for Sergio Aguero, who started Manchester City’s last match against Bournemouth on the bench. Last season, upon the arrival of Pep Guardiola, he had faced an uncertain future with the Citizens with Gabriel Jesus and, on a few occasions, Nolito preferred to him.

The same problems threaten to bother the Argentine once again as he is not really one of the first names on the team sheet for the Guardiola. Should he continue his formidable home record against Liverpool – he has scored in all five of his home games against the Reds – Aguero could go a long way in cementing a place for himself in the starting eleven.

If not, his Manchester City future could just be up in the air once again, just when things were seeming to be taking an upwards trajectory for the Argentina international.

Prediction

Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool

Games involving Manchester City and Liverpool have usually been closely contested affairs in the recent history, viz several stalemates and odd-goal wins for either sides. With the two sides very closely matched in terms of their output so far this season, this is a match that is tough to call.

The sheer amount of attacking riches means that one should expect at least one goal from either side, considering the respective defensive units do not inspire a lot of confidence either. The Hard Tackle, thus, predicts a 1-1 draw that should not be short its moments.

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