Venue: Etihad Stadium
Date: 9 September 2017
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Kick off: 12:30
Manchester City host Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday lunchtime in one of the most anticipated matches of the Premier League season so far.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have an impetuous record against the other five teams in the top six. Since Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers in the hotseat at Anfield, Liverpool have the best record of the top six when facing eachother, winning 47% of their matches and losing just once in 19 matches.
City, meanwhile, have the worst record in that league table – taking just 15 points from 18 matches – but will be looking for an impressive attacking performance to show that missing out on the deadline day signing of Alexis Sanchez will not dictate their campaign.
Captain Vincent Kompany picked up a minor calf injury whilst on international duty with Belgium and is set to miss out, meaning that Eliaquim Mangala, who failed to secure a move away from the club in the transfer window, could be involved under Pep Guardiola for the first time. City do, however, welcome back Kyle Walker from suspension and could include long-term absentee Ilkay Gundogan in the matchday squad. Although, the German is unlikely to be risked from the start.
Despite fighting off interest from Barcelona, Liverpool will not have Brazilian playmaker Phillippe Coutinho at their disposal on Saturday, with the 25-year-old left out of their travelling squad amid rumours of a rift between himself and manager Klopp. Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana remain on the sidelines with long-term injuries.
On top of their incredible record against other sides in the top six, Liverpool also possess a strong record against City specifically. City have won just one of the last six meetings between the two sides – the 2016 League Cup final.
Liverpool will undoubtedly continue with Klopp’s gegenpressing tactic, aiming to win the ball high up field and put the pace of their attacking players to good use. City have failed to cope with this on previous occasions, particularly when there is a lack of confidence in players on the ball. The additions of Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy have looked to solve this but losing Kompany for such a vital game could prove to be costly for Pep Guardiola’s side.
While Coutinho is considered to be the lynchpin of Liverpool’s prowess, their dissection of Arsenal prior to the international break showed that there is plenty of quality even without their star man and City will need to ensure that they don’t become complacent because of his absence.
This will be the first real test for Pep Guardiola and his side this season. Although they were held by Everton, City were reduced to ten men for a large portion of that match.
Both teams have shown defensive weakness and, as City look to stablise their back four, the loss of Kompany will not help that. This has all of the ingredients to be a high-scoring game so you can, no doubt, expect a mundane 0-0 draw.
I don’t think that it will be 0-0 but I think that there will be a relativity low amount of goals compared to other predictions.
I’ll go with a 2-1 win for Liverpool (I’m afraid). Kompany’s absence will have a significant impact and I can envisage Nicolas Otamendi stepping in and being pulled around like a puppet on strings. A brace from Mohamed Salah will be slightly consoled by a late moment of brilliance from Yaya Toure.