Manchester City will look to finally end their winless streak at Anfield on Sunday when they face Liverpool in the Premier League.
In the first of several fixtures against top six sides over the next few weeks, the Blues will aim to open up a ten point gap between themselves are the current champions.
Nicolas Anelka scored a brace the last time City won at Anfield in 2003, with the Blues having since been unable to win at Liverpool in their previous seventeen attempts, suffering twelve defeats and five draws.
It was Liverpool who famously ended City’s record breaking winning streak in 2018 with a 4-3 victory in mid-January. This season, City travel to Merseyside having won their last thirteen games in all competitions and having kept six consecutive clean sheets in the process.
The fortress which was Anfield for sixty-eight games was abruptly destroyed by Burnley a fortnight ago and given Brighton’s surprising victory in midweek, if City can finally win at Anfield then they will inflict a third straight home defeat on the current Champions – something which hasn’t happened in almost six decades.
The in-form Manchester City side could make an important statement with a win this weekend as they enter a likely title defining set of fixtures. Ahead of the first of these, here is everything you need to know about the trip to Anfield…
Both City and Liverpool are struggling with a series of injuries, with the latter to be without defenders Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez for remainder of the season. Jurgen Klopp will also be without Joel Matip,while the fitness of Sadio Mané, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Allison will be assessed ahead of Sunday.
City will go to Anfield without Sergio Agüero, as the striker continues to work his way back to fitness having suffered with a series of injuries and COVID-19 in recent weeks. Kevin De Bruyne will also be absent, with the Belgian expected to remain sidelined for another several weeks as he recovers from an injury suffered in the 2-0 win against Aston Villa in January.
The other City absentee will be Nathan Aké, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury which he is thought to have suffered around Christmas, with his last appearance coming on Boxing Day in the victory over Newcastle.
Head To Head:
It will be meeting 187 between the two North West sides on Sunday with City having won forty nine, drawn forty seven and lost ninety of the past 186 matches.
Despite the disastrous record at Anfield, City have lost only one of the last six games in all competitions against Liverpool with a 4-0 win at the Etihad at the back end of last season and an incredibly frustrating 1-1 draw in early November this season, where Kevin De Bruyne missed a penalty.
Only once in the last twenty four league meetings has the away side won this fixture with the exception being Liverpool in 2015.
Pep Guardiola faces two tactical dilemma’s this weekend, the first being whether he starts with Gabriel Jesus or adopts the recently successful false nine system. If the City boss opts for the latter the big question will be who plays, with Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Ferran Torres and Bernardo Silva all having played in the false nine role in recent weeks.
The second dilemma faced by Guardiola is who to play at left-back after Aymeric Laporte started in the position in midweek at Turf Moor. More commonly, Oleksandr Zinchenko has been playing in the that position but the question is whether City will be more cautious and put defence before attack at Anfield.
The Manager’s Thoughts:
There has been a somewhat comical discussion erupt ahead of this eagerly anticipated match as Jurgen Klopp seemingly turned to pre-match excuses in his press conference as he claimed City’s fine run of form to be because; “We [Liverpool] haven’t had a break, ManCity had two weeks for Covid reasons.”
When asked about the rather ridiculous comment, Guardiola said “Jurgen has to see the calendar again.” and later went on to say “I’m surprised, I thought Jurgen was not that kind of manager.”
In regards to the game itself, the Catalonian said it’s, “Always difficult to face Liverpool. Top club, top players, top background, top coaches,” when speaking about the magnitude of the meeting.
There was also more praise for the in-form Ilkay Gundogan from the City boss as he said; “I admire when a player is intelligent, he solves problems properly in games. It must be solved when you are intelligent. That’s why he’s a top class player.”
Micheal Oliver will take charge of the fixture for the fourth time in his career and for the second consecutive season, given the Northumberland based referee was in the middle for City’s 3-1 loss at Anfield last November.
Oliver will be joined by assistant referees Stuart Burt and Simon Bennet and fourth official Chris Kavanagh for what will be his 26th appointment of the season so far. Paul Tierney (VAR) and Constantine Hatzidakis (AVAR) will be overseeing proceedings from Stockley Park in London – the League’s VAR HQ.
It is also worth noting that from this weekend, teams will have the option of making up to two additional substitutes in the game as the concussion substitution trials begin. Simply, if club medical staff deem a player to be unable to continue due to a head injury, a manager will not have to use up one of his three substitutions to replace the player. The substituted player will not however be able to return once replaced by an APCs (additional permanent concussion substitute).
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