City head to Anfield after Stamford Bridge and Paris – Liverpool vs Manchester City Preview
Updated: Oct 3, 2021
Watch Liverpool vs Man City live on Sky Sports Main Event from 4 pm BST on Sunday.
It's the Champions vs the Challengers this weekend as a raucous Anfield crowd welcome Manchester City to Merseyside. Jurgen Klopp's men, fresh off a resounding Champions League trouncing of Porto, welcome City, who were comprehensively beaten by a Lionel Messi inspired Paris-Saint Germain on Tuesday night. Both sides know that a win will have them sitting at the top of the table heading into the international break whilst anything less will mean they lose ground on Chelsea.
Klopp's team looked shaky defensively in their weekend draw with Brentford, showing that even with the welcome return of Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool aren't the same invincible and seemingly unstoppable team they were across the 18/19 and 19/20 seasons. They'll be looking to make sure those dropped points are avenged for whilst City will be looking to build on their emphatic win on this ground last season when they demolished an injury-hit Liverpool team 4-1. It's the best attack in the league vs the best defence - can City win and make a statement of intent for the crown?
The Blues: Manchester City
League position: 5th
Previous result: Chelsea 0-1 Man City (Jesus)
Despite signing Jack Grealish for £100m in the summer it hasn't been the Blues' attacking prowess that has been most impressive about the side this season. The win against Chelsea was, in part, thanks to the attacking force and Pep's men could've scored more, but it was how dominant the team were defensively that set the tone to go on and win the game.
City's press on Jorginho, in particular, was magnificent that day but the style of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool means that City will be required to find another way to beat Sunday's hosts. City will be keen to take caution in their press from the front - it worked to perfection on Alisson last season but this time around, mainly due to the influence of Virgil van Dijk, it could be a little different. The centre-back isn't just composed enough to find a close-range option to help the team play through the press, but his range is also impeccable. Liverpool's second goal against Burnley all started with van Dijk finding a forward player with a pin-point pass over the top.
City's defence hasn't just come from the press though it has been a huge part of it. City's defensive players have been terrific all season - Rodri, Laporte and Dias have won every domestic game they've started this season and the trifecta has been able to nullify every attacking threat they've had to face so far, the latest being Romelu Lukaku and Chelsea. The Blues are averaging only one shot on target against in the six games they've played this season and if they keep that up by limiting Liverpool to one shot on target, they'll have a huge chance of winning the game, which does go without saying.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane might be a little harder to contain than a typical big-man striker though. The pair have tormented City on several occasions although last season, Pep's more pragmatic approach limited Liverpool's forwards to little to nothing. They'll be caution thrown to the Salah and Mane hurricane which is coming, so expect Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker to be a little more tentative in their attacking approach ahead of this one.
Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden were electric at Stamford Bridge and the pair could start again for this one after the latter was rested for the midweek Champions League clash. A real area City will look to exploit in attack though is the hosts' right-hand side, where James Milner or Kostas Tsimikas will be in to replace the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold. Jack Grealish had a hand in five goals against Liverpool last season and with Trent out, he'll be desperate to have a substantial influence on this game.
Alex Zinchenko - OUT
Ilkay Gundogan - OUT
Potential XI: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Jesus, Sterling, Grealish
Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis & Lee Betts
Fourth official: Mike Dean
VAR: Stuart Attwell
Assistant VAR: Marc Perry
The opposition: Liverpool
League position: 2
Previous result: Brentford 3-3 Liverpool (Salah, Jota, Jones)
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah (5)
Liverpool have had a decent start to the new campaign and despite two draws - at home to 10-man Chelsea and away to Brentford - the Reds have the chance to go top of the table if they can find a way to beat the Champions. Last season they had no success in this fixture after a stale draw at the Etihad in November and a beat down on home turf in February when City were in the middle of an epic 21-game winning run.
That result will be talked down by Liverpool fans because of the circumstances that surrounded it. The side were without key defender Virgil van Dijk - or any senior centre-back at all - so Jurgen Klopp was forced to play star midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho as makeweight centre-backs, which ultimately was always destined to fail, especially against a system like City's.
What injuries can't be accountable for were Alisson's errors on the night. The 'keeper gave away the ball twice in the build-up to the Blues' second goal and the shot-stopper passed away the ball straight to Bernardo Silva as City scored the third. Phil Foden's fourth was just an irresistible shot that gave the 'keeper no chance and emphasised the result.
This time around though and with key men back in key positions for Liverpool, this becomes a much sterner test for Guardiola's City.
Not only have Liverpool as a team looked electric going forward again but Mohamed Salah looks like a man possessed. A goal in every but one Premier League game, two goals in midweek in the Champions League too - he's gearing up for the big one. The forward has goals in four of five meetings between these sides at Anfield in all competitions and looks in the type of form that could see him add to that on Sunday.
If he's to score though, he and his team will have to without Trent Alexander-Arnold. The full-back has had a typically excellent start to the season but a groin injury has now forced him out until after the international break, meaning England and Gareth Southgate will also be without his services as a creative weapon.
In his place is likely to be the veteran James Milner, who drew praise for his performance in midweek with Trent out. The midfielder turned full-back has a wealth of experience so Liverpool won't be lacking that although Milner's dwindling athleticism may be a weakness that City, and Jack Grealish, look to pounce on.
Trent Alexander-Arnold - OUT (groin) - expected back 16 October
Harvey Elliott - OUT (ankle) - unknown return
Potential XI: Alisson; Milner, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Jones, Salah, Firmino, Mane (4-3-3)
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