Match Preview: Manchester City vs Liverpool
Manchester City host Liverpool at the Etihad in Gameweek 32 of the Premier League. As the title race and City’s 2-year dominance in English football done and dusted with the defeat at Stamford Bridge, Jurgen Klopp’s men will visit the Etihad as the newly crowned champions, and as confirmed by Pep, will receive a guard of honour from the Cityzens.
However, don’t be mistaken into thinking that tomorrow night’s clash is a dead rubber. For Liverpool, it is as much about chasing records as is about beating their closest title rivals of the past 2 years. As for City, the players would be fresh from applauding their counterparts and would be eager to get some bragging rights back straightaway, while also making an attempt to protect their own records set over the course of previous 2 seasons.
Manchester City: Sergio Aguero, who has scored against Liverpool in League games at the Etihad every year since he came to England, remains out after a knee surgery while Fernandinho is suspended after receiving a 2-game ban for his red card against Chelsea. Eric Garcia, who was out since the Arsenal game due to concussion returned to training while Leroy Sane, who although still eligible to play for City for remainder of the season, is unlikely to don the Sky Blue jersey again after reports of his transfer to Bayern Munich came out last night.
Liverpool: James Milner and Joel Matip are expected to remain sidelined.
Against Newcastle, Manchester City showcased one of the best displays of one touch crisp passing we’ve seen this season. Gundogan and De Bruyne owned the midfield, with both managing more passes than the entire Newcastle team. But the same won’t be that easy against Liverpool. While the Magpies refused to leave their box, Liverpool would press high and won’t give our midfield the same time and space to work the ball around.
In addition, the midfield will also have to keep in mind that losing ball in dangerous areas could lead to a swift counter attack, starting with a long ball launched straight to one of Liverpool’s wingers. City haven't particularly dealt with the counter attacks well this season. While with Laporte’s comeback, one side of the pitch would be covered well, but Fernandinho’s absence could mean the other side becomes an easy area to exploit for the opponents. Kyle Walker might be asked to play a deeper role and use his pace to help out the defense on the other side.
In attack, Sergio Aguero will be a big miss. Against top sides you don’t get many chances and you need lethal attackers to create something out of nothing more often than not, just like he did in January last year. Mahrez, who seems to be in form of his Manchester City career, might turn out to the difference maker this time, while Sterling who finally broke his duck against Liverpool in Community Shield in August would be determined to score against his former club again.
Head to Head
Under Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, the 2 clubs have faced each other on 7 occasions in the Premier League. While Liverpool have won thrice, Manchester City came out on top twice, with the other 2 games being draws.
Highest scorers for Manchester City in these games have been Leroy Sane (4) and Sergio Aguero (3), who are both out of tomorrow night’s clash while for Liverpool, the front 3 of Firmino, Mane and Salah have all bagged 2 goals each.
With the title decided already, it is expected from Pep to give more chances to the squad players and academy kids, in order to rest the key players for Cup games and to test the players for next season. However, this game is unlikely to be the one for it. In addition to the factors discussed above already, the rest of the league fixtures are relatively easier, and more suitable for resting the key players. No team, manager or set of fans would like to risk a result in this game.
Manchester City (4-4-3): Ederson; Walker, Garcia, Laporte, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling
Liverpool (4-4-3): Allison; Trent, Lovren, Van Dijk, Gomez; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Fourth Official: Mike Dean
VAR: Stuart Attwell
Date: Friday, July 3
Kick off: 12.45 AM IST
TV: Star Sports 1 & HD, Select 1 & HD, Select 2 & HD
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