Liverpool travel to Manchester City on Thursday as club football returns with a bang. It may be the fourth round of the Carabao Cup but you can expect these two sides to go hammer and tongs at each other. Here’s the match preview. 

It’s been over five weeks since Jürgen Klopp’s men last took the pitch in a competitive outing. Southampton were beaten 3-1 at Anfield that day as Darwin Nunez signed off for the World Cup with a brace.

The World Cup concluded two days ago, with several members of both squads going deep into the tournament. The tight turnaround means we could see both sides field ‘weaker lineups’ than we are used to.

That won’t matter a jot once the referee’s whistle blows however, with the enmity between these two clubs only intensifying in recent years. It’s so much so that a joint letter has been released to try and smoothen things over and reduce some of the tension amongst the two fanbases.

It promises to be yet another fiercely contested battle. Jürgen Klopp has gotten the better of Pep Guardiola twice already this season, with a 3-1 victory in the Community Shield being backed up by a 1-0 league win at Anfield two months ago.

The Reds are the defending champions of the League Cup, having lifted the trophy back in February after a marathon penalty shootout victory over Chelsea. They face a massive test on Thursday in their quest to defend the trophy.

There will be lots of interesting battles to look forward to. Free scoring Erling Haaland wasn’t involved in the World Cup and is coming off the back of a three week break. He will come up against Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, with Van Dijk granted extended rest following his World Cup exploits.

Haaland has fired blanks in both games against Liverpool this season and will be aiming to put that right, especially in the absence of the big man. Elsewhere, Kevin De Bruyne will be looking to put a disappointing campaign with Belgium behind him.

The Red Devils’ shock group stage exit was a blessing in disguise for the Citizens as it means they have their two key men available for this clash. De Bruyne to Haaland is a combination that has wreaked havoc to many a team this season.

Key to disrupting that linkup and establishing dominance in midfield for the Reds will be Thiago Alcantara. The Spaniard was inexplicably left out of Spain’s World Cup squad and is primed to play a big part on Thursday.

Another key battle will be Mohamed Salah versus Sergio Gomez. The Egyptian will be relishing this game as he always seems to turn up against City. He’s another who has enjoyed a well earned break ahead of this fixture.

Potentially the most mismatched battle could well be on Liverpool’s left flank, with Darwin Nunez likely to come up against youngster Rico Lewis. The Uruguayan shook off a torrid World Cup campaign to net a brace off the bench against AC Milan.

That was a statement return to action. As they say, start as you mean to go on. Tasked to stop Darwin will in all likelihood be 18 year old Rico Lewis. The English youngster has made six appearances this season, featuring for the entirety of City’s third round League Cup victory over Chelsea.

He lost the most duels in that fixture despite the Citizens coming out on top in the end. Darwin should be licking his lips at the prospect of taking on the teenager. Riyad Mahrez will no doubt have to track back to help out.

Come what may, Thursday promises to be an enthralling encounter. It’s a welcome return to action for club football and what better way to restart than a cup tie between the two best teams in the land over the past five years?

Team News

Arthur Melo (thigh), Luis Diaz (knee) and Diogo Jota (calf) remain long term absentees. Calvin Ramsay and Curtis Jones are also expected to miss out through injury. Ibrahima Konaté and Virgil Van Dijk are both ruled out as they rest following World Cup exploits.

Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Henderson and Fabinho have returned to training this week and could all be involved, although the former is not expected to start ahead of Caomhin Kelleher.

For City, Ederson, Cancelo, Dias, Walker, Stones, Silva, Phillips, Grealish, Foden all only returned to training this week. Their involvement in this fixture is in doubt as a result. Julian Alvarez is definitely out as he continues to celebrate the World Cup win with Argentina.

Predicted Man City XI: Ortega, Lewis, Akanji, Ake, Gomez, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Palmer, Haaland.



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