Liverpool face off against Manchester City on Saturday and with the two teams arguably possessing the best attacks in the league, it is sure to be an enthralling encounter. With both the Reds and City level on points with three games played, it is already a huge game that could have a big impact on the final standings in May.
Last Meeting: Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool (19th March 2017)
Liverpool’s last visit to the Etihad Stadium was a thrilling 1-1 draw with the Citizens back in March, in a game that was full of chances at both ends. Liverpool took the lead just after the break through a James Milner penalty although this was cancelled out about 20 minutes later with an unexpected goal from Aguero following a wonderful cross by Kevin De Bruyne.
It remains a mystery how the scoreline remained 1-1, with both sides missing countless chances which on another day would have ended up in the back of the net. Sterling, Fernandinho and Aguero all missed golden opportunities on the day, but no miss was worse or more costly than Adam Lallana’s, with the Englishman somehow miscontrolling the ball from six yards out with just an empty net in front of him.
Liverpool will have been disappointed to leave Manchester with only 1 point, but there was also the relief of leaving with a draw after City squandered good positions of their own.
Despite a seemingly solid 7 points on the board, after the extremely high expectations placed on them, Man City will likely be slightly frustrated with their start to the season. Considering the opposition they’ve faced, their attack has started slowly with only 5 goals in 3 games with all but one of these goals came after the 70th minute mark — perhaps suggesting that City take a while to break teams down. They required a controversial last minute winner from Sterling against Bournemouth to take 3 points and have so far failed to look incredibly convincing.
City have improved one of their major weaknesses after spending approximately £160m on their defence this summer, with the likes of Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker providing both the attacking prowess and defensive ability that City have required in their fullbacks for years. In terms of their attack, City haven’t made many huge changes, although the arrival of talented midfielder Bernardo Silva from Monaco adds another attacking player the Reds will have to be wary of.
Even with City’s lacklustre start to the season and the fact they haven’t beaten us in the league since 2014, it is crucial Liverpool don’t underestimate what could still prove to be a very dangerous side under Pep Guardiola.
The Key Battle: Jordan Henderson vs. David Silva
The captain has endured a mixed start to the campaign and he faces what is his toughest battle of the season so far when he has to be the man to silence the tricky David Silva on Saturday.
Henderson has the job of protecting the back four and with Sterling suspended and Kompany unlikely to feature after missing the international break with a knock, Guardiola will probably revert to a 4-3-3 formation, where Silva will have the chance to thrive.
Along with De Bruyne, Silva will be able to make some delightful passes to the likes of Jesus and Aguero and just like he did with Ozil, Henderson will have to prevent this from happening.
Former Liverpool man Raheem Sterling won’t feature for City on Saturday after picking up a suspension following his celebrations with the crowd against Bournemouth, although Kyle Walker does return from suspension and will probably go straight back into the starting eleven. Ilkay Gundogan is continuing his recovery from a knee injury so is very unlikely to play, while Vincent Kompany is doubtful thanks to a knock.
Adam Lallana remains a long-term absentee, while Klopp has announced that Nathaniel Clyne will be out “longer than just a couple of weeks” and will probably be side-lined until the New Year.
New signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may make his Liverpool debut, while Phil Coutinho has recovered from his ‘back-injury’ and has re-joined first-team training. The Brazilian is unlikely to start the game but has every chance of coming on a substitute where he can hopefully start his reintegration into Klopp’s project.
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Stones, Mendy, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, D. Silva, B. Silva, Jesus, Aguero
Liverpool: Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Moreno, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Can, Salah, Firmino, Mane
Manchester City 1 Liverpool 2