Manchester City go in search of their first victory in over a decade and a half at Anfield on Sunday, with the Champions look to halve the deficit between themselves and leaders Liverpool.
Pep Guardiola’s absentee list has once again increased as Ederson will miss the meeting on Merseyside, due to the muscular injury picked up during the first half of Wednesday’s game in Italy. The Brazilian, who has become an integral member of the current squad, will be replaced with Claudio Bravo – who was shown his second red card on Wednesday in his last four European appearances for City.
Guardiola will also be without Leroy Sané, Aymeric Laporte, David Silva and Oleksandr Zinchenko. Rodri is also a major doubt for the game, however, Jack Gaughan has said that Guardiola is giving him ‘every opportunity to prove his fitness‘.
Liverpool are expected to be without Joel Matip, Xherdan Shaqiri and Nathaniel Clyne for Sunday’s meeting.
Head To Head
The match will be the 184th meeting between the two sides. However City have lost just over 48% of these matches with 89 defeats, 46 draws and 48 victories since 1893. Despite last season’s 0-0 draw at Anfield, the Blues haven’t won there since May of 2003 when Nicholas Anelka scored twice in a 2-1 victory under the helm of Kevin Keegan. This is a fixture that has been known for goals with 561 between the sides over the 183 games.
Manchester City have already met Liverpool once this season in the Community Shield back in August. The game finished with a 1-1 draw as Joel Matip cancelled Raheem Sterling’s early opener. City were eventually victorious as Gabriel Jesus scored the winning penalty.
Both teams come into the clash off the back of late 2-1 victories last time out. City came from behind to beat Southampton, whilst Liverpool also came from behind to beat Aston Villa. Liverpool remain unbeaten this season and currently have a six point cushion at the top of the table with four wins and a draw in their last five outings. City also have four wins from their last five Premier League games but were held to a 1-1 draw in Milan in midweek after a poor second half performance.
The Managers Thoughts
Guardiola described Liverpool as “right now, Liverpool is the strongest team in the world” ahead of the weekend’s game. He also replied “no comment” when asked if City players tactical foul in response to comments made by the Liverpool manager earlier in the week.
The City boss also spoke about Sergio Aguero who has 7 goals against Liverpool and said “he was born scoring goals and he will die scoring goals. He’s an exceptional player.” Another player he spoke about was Claudio Bravo who has struggled since joining the Blues back in 2017. Pep said “Why shouldn’t I be confident in my players? I would not like to be a player if my manager doubts me. I see him every day in training and see how good a goalkeeper he is, we’re not going to lose because of Claudio…”
Tactically, Sunday’s match is also bound to be of huge interest, with Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Kloop coming head to head for the 18th time in their careers. From a City perspective, they’ll be the question of how they will set up, given the growing injury list but also the threat posed by both Liverpool’s front three of Salah, Mane and Firmino, and also the wingbacks of Robertson and Alexander-Arnold. Could we see Pep utilise a three at the back with two additional wingbacks to try and counter the threat posed by Liverpool with a 3-4-3? Last season however, Pep went with a 4-3-3 formation and kept a clean sheet.
Liverpool have only managed to keep two clean sheets and are coming up against the league’s strongest attack with 34 goals already this season. They will also be weary of the damage that City’s front three could do with Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero in fantastic form. The dilemma for Pep is who starts on the other side, with Bernardo not quite at his best or Mahrez who will be hungry to make amends for last season’s missed penalty.
Micheal Oliver will take charge of Liverpool vs Man City for the third time in his career. He will be joined by Stuart Burt and Simon Bennett as assistants and Mike Dean as his fourth official. Paul Tierney is the VAR and he will be joined Constantine Hatzidakis.
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