It will be the clash of the titans at Anfield this weekend in the Premier League as title contenders Liverpool play hosts to champions Manchester City.
Matchday seven of the Premier League will culminate on Sunday with club football taking a backseat for the next couple of weeks as the October international break is almost upon us. Before that, though, fans will be treated with a blockbuster clash as Liverpool and Manchester City will battle it out to claim the top spot in the standings.
Liverpool remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League this season, having picked up four wins and two draws from six games, which sees them sit second in the table, two points below leaders Chelsea. After a thrilling 3-3 draw against Brentford last weekend, the Reds bounced back to winning ways with a 5-1 rout over FC Porto in the Champions League and will be keen on building on that form on Sunday.
Manchester City, meanwhile, are currently sixth in the league table, three points below Chelsea, with a win by a decent margin on Sunday likely to take them to the top. Their form, however, hasn’t been all too consistent, considering that they have won only two of their last four games in all competitions, losing 2-0 to PSG in the Champions League earlier this week.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Manchester City hammer Liverpool 1-4 at Anfield in February earlier this season. Ahead of their latest meeting on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
— Anfield Edition (@AnfieldEdition) September 30, 2021
Liverpool will have to make do without key man Trent Alexander-Arnold for the big game against Manchester City while Thiago Alcantara is also set to miss out. Harvey Elliott, meanwhile, remains a long-term absentee for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The entire Liverpool lineup pretty much picks itself, with Alisson Becker the undisputed starter in goal while Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk seem to be Klopp’s preferred choice of centre-back partnership in the early parts of the campaign. With Alexander-Arnold ruled out, James Milner will step in at right-back while Andrew Robertson takes up the left-back slot.
Both full-backs will be in for stern tests, particularly Milner, who will have to deal with the dual threat of Jack Grealish and the marauding Joao Cancelo. He will, thus, require defensive support from captain Jordan Henderson in the right-side channel, with the England international starting in midfield alongside Fabinho and Curtis Jones, who has impressed heavily in recent games.
Roberto Firmino has seen Diogo Jota overtake him in the pecking order of things in attack, but Klopp could turn to the more experienced Brazilian for this high-profile clash at Anfield. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are the obvious picks out wide for the hosts. Their pace and movement will pose a major threat to the Manchester City full-backs.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Milner, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Manchester City will also be without three players for the trip to Anfield as Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ilkay Gundogan miss out due to injuries while Benjamin Mendy is suspended by the club.
The backline pretty much picks itself for Manchester City with Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte pairing up at the centre, flanked by Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo on the right and left sides, respectively. The latter’s forward forays will be a key attacking outlet for the Cityzens at Anfield, but that could leave him susceptible against Salah, making for an interesting duel.
Rodri is the undisputed starter at the base of the City midfield ahead of club captain Fernandinho. The Spaniard will be crucial for the visitors to assert their dominance on the proceedings. Bernardo Silva will bring the industry and work-rate to the midfield unit, along with his natural ability on the ball while Phil Foden will provide the guile and creativity.
Gabriel Jesus has impressed playing out wide on the right this season and should feature in the same role on Sunday. New signing Jack Grealish will occupy the left-wing slot, from where he will look to make constant inroads and link up with the likes of Foden and Cancelo. Kevin De Bruyne ought to be deployed as the false-nine, releasing him of any defensive duties in order to wreak havoc in the final third.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; Silva, Rodri, Foden; Jesus, De Bruyne, Grealish
- Liverpool were defeated 4-1 the last time they met Manchester City in February. They have not lost consecutive league games against the Cityzens since a run of four between 1935 and 1937.
- Manchester City won this fixture 4-1 last season, ending a run of 17 away league games without a win against Liverpool (D5, L12).
- Liverpool are the only unbeaten side left in the Premier League this season (W4, D2).
- Pep Guardiola has suffered eight defeats in all competitions against teams managed by Jurgen Klopp – more than he has lost to any other rival.
- Liverpool have won just one of their last seven Premier League games against reigning champions (D2 L4), beating Manchester City 3-1 at home in their own title-winning campaign of 2019-20.
Player to Watch
Mohamed Salah in the Premier League this season:
🔴 =Most goals
🔴 =Most shots
🔴 Most shots on target
🔴 Most Big Chances
🔴 Highest xG
🔴 Most touches in opp box
Can anyone stop him? 👑 pic.twitter.com/5rBMgFLBPG
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 2, 2021
In a game filled with an array of superstars, there are a number of players capable of changing the course of the contest with one moment of magic. However, it is Mohamed Salah that gets picked for this section after the blistering start he has made to the new season. Indeed, in eight games in all competitions, he has produced a return of eight goals and two assists.
Salah has scored four goals in his five appearances at Anfield against Manchester City in all competitions. Coming on the back of a double against FC Porto, the 29-year-old will be hoping to carry that form forward and put the Cityzens’ defence to the sword.
Liverpool 2-1 Manchester City
This game is a hard one to call. Liverpool come into the game on the back of a stunning win over FC Porto, but the clash against Brentford showed that there remain chinks in the armour, which Pep Guardiola & co. will look to exploit. Manchester City, meanwhile, lost to PSG in midweek after a top display against Chelsea not long before.
It is this kind of fluctuating, inconsistent form early in the season, coupled with Klopp’s record over Guardiola, that tips the scales marginally in favour of the Reds on Sunday, who will be roared on by a packed Anfield. The Hard Tackle is predicting a narrow win for Liverpool, sending them to the top of the table.