First meeting this season between heavyweights City and Liverpool set to bring fireworks
Manchester City to win 3-2
Although early in the season, this game already has massive consequences for how the remainder of the campaign could play out.
Manchester City are unbeaten in eight games since their poor defeat against Leicester, and should they beat Liverpool this weekend they will move within just two points of the Champions, having played a game fewer.
However, should Liverpool get one over on their rivals and claim three points, they will open up an eight point gap at the top of the table over Man City, and we saw last season how big that gap can grow.
Both sides are showing great form recently, with Liverpool themselves unbeaten in six. City have been the more inconsistent of the two and have only lately shown any kind of quality like the previous two seasons.
It’s sure to be an entertaining fixture with so much riding on the result.
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Reasons to be cheerful:
Gabriel Jesus set for Premier League recall after injury
The arrival of Ruben Dias has strengthened their defence
Reasons to be fearful:
Guardiola has lost a career-high eight matches against Klopp
Far from free-scoring team of previous season
Over the past decade or so, Manchester City have been known as a free-scoring, attacking team who put more goals in the back of the net than anybody else.
This season we’ve seen City struggle a little going forward, not least due to injuries to both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, though the latter is set to return to the line-up this weekend.
They’ve managed just nine goals so far this season, the second-lowest in the top 15 teams in the league. They’ve also conceded eight, proving that this is not quite the same City we have seen in recent years.
Nevertheless, they have quality about them from back to front, particularly after the arrival of Ruben Dias in defence.
Three wins out of three in the Champions League has also helped boost their confidence.
Star Man – Gabriel Jesus
His return will be most welcome for a City team missing a proper centre forward in recent weeks
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Reasons to be cheerful
Diogo Jota has been in terrific form since joining
Have coped reasonably well since losing Virgil Van Dijk to injury
Reasons to be fearful
Already conceded 15 goals this season
Only one clean sheet in their last 12 matches
A glance at the Premier League table will tell you that the Champions are sitting at the top, with five wins, a draw and one defeat from their first seven matches.
A good return, for sure, but things have not all gone in their favour. They’ve had to deal with injuries, not least losing Van Dijk for the season, and numerous players catching Covid-19 so far.
But there have been positives also, Diogo Jota coming in and shaking things up in attack for The Reds, forcing Klopp to re-think Roberto Firmino’s position in the team.
But despite scoring plenty of goals (the second-highest), they’ve also conceded plenty (again, the second-highest), proving that the balance of the team is not quite where their manager would like it.
They’ll fancy their chances of scoring against City this weekend, but may find it difficult to keep them out.
Star Man – Diogo Jota
May or may not start, but is in exceptional form, scoring a hat-trick in midweek. He has seven goals in 10 games.
Should be an end-to-end match with plenty of chances
City will be a better-balanced side with Jesus back
Firmino or Jota will cause Klopp a selection headache
This match follows straight after Leicester vs. Wolves on Sunday, both will be no easier to call a favourite to win.
Manchester City should need no greater incentive than to close the gap on their main rivals and will welcome the return of Gabriel Jesus to lead the line.
Liverpool are likely to stick with Firmino upfront, at least from the start, with Jota able to come off the bench to provide energy.
This one is too close to call, but maybe City will be the hungrier of the two.
Manchester City to win 3-2