Liverpool and Manchester City will lock horns at Anfield on Sunday, with bragging rights and a place on top of the Premier League table up for grabs
The curtains will fall on Gameweek 8 of the Premier League with a blockbuster encounter between two sides that are separated by just goal difference at the top of the table. Liverpool welcome Manchester City to Anfield on Sunday, when a win for either side would give them a crucial headway in the early stage of the season.
Liverpool have started the season brightly enough, with the early signs pointing towards a Premier League title challenge. The Reds though, have stuttered slightly in the last ten days, having dropped their first points in the league while also suffering a defeat each in the Carabao Cup and the UEFA Champions League.
Manchester City, on the other hand, have picked up form after suffering a minor blip on Matchday 1 of the UEFA Champions League group stage. The defending Premier League champions have since won each of their four subsequent games, scoring 12 goals in those fixtures while jumping to the top of the table.
The corresponding fixture last term was a pulsating encounter, as Liverpool narrowly beat Manchester City 4-3 in one of the games of the season. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Premier League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp is sweating over the fitness of Naby Keita, who had to be carried off the field during the match against Napoli due to a back spasm. The Guinean midfielder has not trained much since the loss at San Paolo, and is a major doubt to feature for Liverpool when Manchester City come visiting.
In his stead, Klopp does have the option of fielding Jordan Henderson in the side, which will likely be the way forward on Saturday. Giving the Liverpool captain company in midfield, should be Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner, with the former playing as a box-to-box midfielder instead of a deeper role.
Meanwhile, there is some good news for Klopp, with Adam Lallana fit and available after recovering from a groin injury. Should Keita be unable to make the matchday squad altogether, Lallana will then be a handy option on the bench for the Liverpool boss.
The rest of the starting lineup should be a straightforward selection, with Alisson Becker lining up between the sticks. The back four though, will face the litmus test, with the full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, in particular, having to deal with the pace and trickery of Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling.
Upfront, the attacking trio pick themselves as well, despite the lull in form that the likes of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah have been going through in recent games. Klopp though, does have game changing options in Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge, who combined for the equaliser against Chelsea last weekend.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Pep Guardiola has been greeted with more positive news than negative ahead of the crunch trip the Liverpool. Manchester City fans will be excited by the return of Kevin De Bruyne a month ahead of schedule, with the Belgian playmaker training in the days leading up to the top-of-the-table clash.
Guardiola has iterated that De Bruyne could feature on Sunday, although he is unlikely to make the starting lineup. Another player who should make his presence felt against Liverpool is Benjamin Mendy, with the Manchester City boss suggesting that the Frenchman is in contention to feature.
That leaves Guardiola with Claudio Bravo and Fabian Delph as the only players on the sidelines due to injury, while Ilkay Gundogan is doubtful due to a hamstring injury he sustained during the Champions League tie against TSG Hoffenheim 1899.
In the likely absence of Gundogan and De Bruyne’s lack of full match fitness should mean Bernardo Silva will give David Silva and Fernandinho company in the middle of the park. The rest of the starting lineup, meanwhile, is an automatic selection, with Benjamin Mendy taking his place in the left-back slot.
The Frenchman will likely join Aymeric Laporte, Vincent Kompany and Kyle Walker in the defensive unit which will be providing cover to Ederson. Upfront, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling will be the wide men, providing a pacy outlet on either flank, with Sergio Aguero being the central striker.
Aguero, in particular, will be eager to break his scoring duck at Anfield, having never managed to find the back of the net at the famous ground. The likes of Sterling, David Silva and Bernardo Silva, meanwhile, will be looking to create overloads in and around the Liverpool box to slice open the hosts’ defence, while Sane will pose a huge threat with his creative abilities.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy; Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, David Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane
- Liverpool are unbeaten in 17 home matches against Manchester City in all competitions (W12 D5) since losing 2-1 at Anfield in the Premier League in May 2003.
- Manchester City have lost three matches against Liverpool in 2018, losing in the Premier League in January and two Champions League ties in April. They’ve only lost four matches in one calendar year against an opponent twice before, doing so against Grimsby Town in 1936 and Tottenham in 1993.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 24 home league games, the longest current run in the Premier League (W16 D8).
- Manchester City have lost only one of their last 25 Premier League away matches (W20 D4), although it was in this exact fixture last season (3-4).
- Sergio Aguero has played nine matches in all competitions at Anfield in his career, failing to score in any of those games, attempting just 11 shots with only three of those being on target.
1. Full Time Result – Draw or Manchester City @ 1.55
2. Sergio Aguero to score anytime @ 2.20
3. Over 3.5 Cards @ 1.61
1. Manchester City Clean Sheet – YES @ 4.33
Player to Watch
It has all gone pear shaped for the 2017-18 Premier League Player of the Year, who struggled to get going in the early stages of the campaign. After setting a high benchmark for himself with his exploits last season, Salah is stumbling in his efforts to maintain those levels thus far, although it hasn’t all been doom and gloom.
Salah has still got himself into dangerous positions, although he is quite clearly lacking the required sharpness to make the difference in front of goal. The game against Manchester City though, offers him a chance to get back to top form by making an impact for Liverpool and leading them to a crucial win.
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester City
A clash between two of the favourites in a competition is always a hard one to call, and Sunday’s fixture between Liverpool and Manchester City is no different either. The match provides each side with the opportunity to lay down the marker and make an early statement in the title race, and recent form could come in the picture.
It is here where Pep Guardiola’s men slightly edge out the hosts, although the Reds do boast an impeccable record at home. But, the contrast in form of the two attacking units means that it could be a long evening for Jurgen Klopp & co. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Manchester City to take the lead in the title race.