It’s the match we’ve all been waiting for, and it’s already being touted as make or break for City’s title hopes. The blues head to Anfield looking to keep pace with the reds who have a six point lead over them. While there’s obviously plenty of the season remaining, this weekends match is going to be a huge test for both teams looking to prove they’re better than the other.
Here’s how we think City will line-up…
You’ll have to hit the refresh button on City’s injury list an hour before kick-off just to check another player hasn’t been added. Leroy Sané and Aymeric Laporte remain out in the long-term, and last month we learned of Oleksandr Zinchenko injury which will keep him sidelined for the rest of the month. Just this last week, City suffered even more injuries to both David Silva (thigh) and shockingly Ederson (muscular problem) during matches, so will be without them for this big Super Sunday clash. Also, Rodri, who has been suffering with a hamstring injury, has been given ‘every chance to prove his fitness’ by Pep Guardiola, according to Jack Gaughan.
That’s possibly six would-be starters ruled out for what’s undoubtedly one of the blues’ biggest games of the season, making Liverpool the favourites at a ground City haven’t won at since 2003. Though we all know football doesn’t always play out the way people expect it to.
Short of a last minute recall of a keeper out on loan, we’ll see Claudio Bravo start in net (and come charging out periodically). Pep has made a point to extol the Chileans virtues this week, so let’s hope he can repay his managers faith. John Stones is the best natural centre back City have right now and should play after being rested in midweek. Some are suggesting Fernandinho could reprise his role in midfield but it’s unlikely, as he hasn’t started there all season. He’s officially a centre back now and we should come to terms with it. There’s more options at full-back but I’d expect Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker to fill those slots. I’d imagine Walker sees his goalie heroics from the San Siro as a one time gig but should Bravo see red again, who knows?
Ilkay Gundogan is the sensible pick for defensive midfield despite having a poor game against Atalanta. Guardiola will need workhorses to rapidly press Liverpool, so it’s likely that Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva get the nod alongside the German. This leaves the forward-right position open for Riyad Mahrez and no-one should question Raheem Sterling’s place in the team, even if he doesn’t have best record away at Anfield.
Normally this would be the kind of game we’d see Gabriel Jesus up front, pressing high up the pitch and making runs to drag defenders out of position. But his misfire in midweek makes me doubt the faith we have in him to score when it’s needed the most. Sergio Agüero can be relied on and it’s for this reason I think he’s preferred.
Scott Carson needs to be warming up from minute one. Nicolas Otamendi, Angeliño and Joao Cancelo should be the back-up defenders with Tommy Doyle and Phil Foden options for midfield. Gabriel Jesus should feature at some point if City find themselves behind with not long left in the game.
Follow us on Twitter for live updates here: @City_Xtra
Follow the Author here: @IGnoblewretch