MANCHESTER CITY VS LIVERPOOL: PREVIEW
Following a fortnight break owing to the international break, Liverpool are back in action on Saturday. It’s a tasty clash as well, with the Reds travelling to the Etihad stadium for a 11:30 GMT kickoff. Here’s a preview of what is sure to be another enthralling encounter against Manchester City.
Jürgen Klopp and the entire fanbase needed this break it seems. The Reds have been doing collective heads in with their consistent inconsistencies. The 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United was followed up by defeats away at Bournemouth and Real Madrid.
The former was especially galling as victory would have moved Liverpool into the top four. Instead, a woeful display saw bottom of the table Bournemouth clinch all three points. Defeat at the Bernabeu was disappointing not because of the result, but due to the attitude of some in red.
There was no belief nor fight, with all hopes of a comeback proven to be just that. There was none of the steely determination that was crucial to that famous game against Barcelona a few seasons ago. That really stuck in the craw, with the Reds unrecognisable from the mentality monsters we knew them to be.
This break was necessary in the sense that a reset was required. Several members of the squad linked up with their respective national teams, with the change in scenery surely a positive at this juncture. Several played their parts in impressive victories and will no doubt return to Merseyside in buoyant mood.
It’s as tough as it gets on Saturday. Manchester City have been the Reds’ fiercest rivals over the past five years or so. The rivalry may have fallen off the radar for the mainstream media due to Liverpool’s struggles this season but it’s as intense as ever between the two clubs.
This was evidenced in each of the three encounters between the sides already this campaign. First was the Community Shield, which Liverpool lifted after a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Pep Guardiola’s expensively assembled outfit.
It was similarly intense when City visited Anfield for a league clash in October. The Reds handed the Citizens their first defeat of the campaign as a trademark Salah strike proved to be the difference between the sides.
The last encounter was an EFL Cup tie at the Etihad back in December. A ding dong battle was shaded by the hosts who prevailed 3-2 winners on the night to knock Jürgen Klopp’s men (who were defending champions) out of the competition.
Outside those three meetings, the two sides have been world’s apart in terms of on field results. Whilst City are still fighting for the title (they currently sit in 2nd place, 8 points off Arsenal but with a game in hand), Liverpool are now locked in a real battle to finish in the top four.
Guardiola’s men have a Champions League quarter final date with Bayern Munich and an FA Cup semi final tie against Sheffield United to come. The Reds meanwhile are out of all Cup competitions and must now focus all their energy on finishing in the top four.
The contrast between the two sides regarding how they’ve managed to regenerate and refresh their squad, whilst steering away from a false nine system to integrate natural-born strikers is fascinating.
City have by no means been at their rip-roaring best throughout the campaign but as we head into April, they still have a chance at lifting the treble. Liverpool meanwhile have fallen off the proverbial cliff.
Granted, the difference in financial might cannot be ignored, but FSG and Jürgen Klopp know they have a huge rebuild on their hands this summer to bridge the gap they had previously rendered insignificant.
The form coming into this clash couldn’t be more contrasting. City are unbeaten in their last ten matches across all competitions and are on a six game winning streak. Liverpool meanwhile have won four and lost five of their last ten fixtures in all competitions.
The last ten league meetings between the two sides have been pretty even. Both sides have managed three victories apiece, along with four stalemates. Ominously, the Reds have failed to beat City at the Etihad since Guardiola took charge.
In the last six trips to the blue half of Manchester, the Reds have drawn three and lost three. An aggregate scoreline of 15-5 speaks to the dominance City have exerted over the Reds at the Etihad since 2016.
Liverpool have received a huge injury boost this week. Luis Diaz has made his long awaited return to team training after a five month layoff, whilst Darwin Nunez has also recovered from an ankle problem that kept him out of international duty. Ramsay (knee), Bajcetic (groin) and Thiago (hip) remain out.
City have been handed a huge blow as star striker Erling Haaland is currently struggling with a groin injury. He sat out of training today and is unlikely to be involved on Saturday. Phil Foden has also been ruled out after undergoing surgery to remove his appendix this week.
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