Inside the Opposition

Inside the Opposition: Liverpool vs. City (Predicted XI, Man to Watch, Recent Head-to-Head)

Manchester City travel to Anfield on Sunday for a clash that has been billed by pundits as the one with the highest chance of breaking our unbeaten streak in the league and quite rightly so. Liverpool have not been beaten in the league since their 4-1 loss to Tottenham at Wembley at the end of October, a run of 12 matches.

Jurgen Klopp has a good balance in his squad and even though some could argue that the sale of Phillipe Coutinho offsets the purchase of Virgil van Dijk, the truth is that Van Dijk seriously strengthens their defense while Coutinho does not weaken the attack as much. This is an attack that looked to seriously trouble City at the Etihad until Mane was sent off. The ingredients are all there for a Premier League classic.

Let’s have a look inside the opposition…

PREDICTED LINE-UP

Jurgen Klopp confirmed that Mohamed Salah is available for selection for this weekend’s match along with Daniel Sturridge. The Reds’ top scorer returned to training this week following a groin injury that ruled him out of the 2-1 victories over Burnley in the Premier League and Everton in the FA Cup.

The game however comes too soon for Jordan Henderson and Alberto Moreno.

In goal the most likely presence will be Simon Mignolet who continues to be first choice due to a lack of better options. He has the capability to make good saves but always seems to have a mistake in him.

On the right side of defence Joe Gomez will likely feature as he has in all games against top sides since Trent Alexander Arnold was exposed by Benjamin Mendy and Leroy Sané in the reverse fixture. Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk will feature at centre-back, more reliable options than the error prone Lovren and erratic Klavan. Andrew Robertson will feature at left-back and has recently shown that he is a better defender than Moreno and also good at raiding forward.

Klopp will field a 3–man midfield with Emre Can at the base and Gini Wijnaldum and recently fit Adam Lallana helping him out. All of them will press City and do their best to deny Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva any space to work their magic.

A menacing front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane will be present of the toughest tests faced by City and both full-backs will have to track back well to keep them quiet.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Mohamed Salah has been exceptional this season and has been widely touted as the signing of the season by many. He would surely be the favorite for player of the season had Kevin De Bruyne not been in such spectacular form. He has already scored 22 goals with his 17 in the league making him the second highest scorer. He was left free to run at Otamendi by Mendy at the Etihad in the reverse fixture which saw the Argentinean booked early in the game and have fair amount of nervous moments. He might even have fired Liverpool into a lead had his finishing been more clinical. This time around Delph will have to keep a keen eye on him and not let him cut in on his favored left foot. Salah’s searing pace can also hurt City’s high line.

RECENT HEAD-TO-HEAD

City have struggled recently against Liverpool, but the last two games under Guardiola have shown noticeable improvement after four consecutive league defeats before that.

City’s 5-0 win over Liverpool earlier this season was their first in the Premier League since 2014, but in between the four league losses, they did beat Liverpool at Wembley to win the League Cup in 2016.

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