• Charley Longden

Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Liverpool vs Manchester City Preview

Manchester City have returned from Copenhagen and are now preparing to go to battle with Liverpool at Anfield. A win for Pep Guardiola’s men will mean the gap between City and Liverpool will grow to an astonishing 16 points. The match will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event in the United Kingdom on Sunday, the 16th of October and is scheduled to kick off at 16:30 (BST).

 

Team News and Predicted XI


In his press conference, Guardiola confirmed that John Stones is ruled out of Sunday’s trip to Anfield. The England international has been out with a hamstring injury since the international break. Guardiola confirmed that Stones is expected to return in ‘around ten days’.

Photo courtesy of Michael Regan/Getty Images

Guardiola also gave an update on English duo Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips, stating that they are both ‘still out’ and he wasn’t sure if either of them will be back fit for the World Cup.


Despite being held to a draw in Copenhagen, City have still confirmed their place in the Champions League knockout stage due to Dortmund and Sevilla also sharing the points. After a somewhat chaotic first half, the Champions League match against Copenhagen played out to be a bit of a damp squib ending in a goalless draw.


Rodri had a sumptuous strike chalked off after a VAR review revealed that the ball brushed Riyad Mahrez’s hand before arriving in the path of the Spaniard. Moments later, the Blues were awarded a penalty after another VAR review that showed the ball hitting Nicolai Boilesen on the arm. Mahrez, however, was unable to convert the spot kick, with the shot being at a comfortable height for the goalkeeper to reach.


To round off a slightly bizarre first half, referee Artur Dias was sent to the monitor for a third time and made the decision to show Sergio Gomez a red card for a last-man challenge. With just ten men on the field, the Blues struggled to penetrate the home side's stubborn backline, leading the game to fizzle out as a 0-0 draw.

With Sunday's fixture rapidly looming, Guardiola was happy to see some of his key players rested in the midweek clash with Copenhagen. Erling Haaland, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, and Ruben Dias all missed out on a place in the starting XI. Haaland did not see a single minute of action to ensure the Norwegian goal machine is in peak condition for Sunday’s trip to Anfield.


Nathan Ake was also one of the many superstars named on the bench for the midweek fixture with Copenhagen, which could indicate that he may well play in this weekend’s showdown with Liverpool. The Dutch international has shown remarkable resilience in ensuring he gets the minutes he deserves after being heavily linked with a move away in the summer. Ake has been consistently dependable whenever called upon this season and is more than deserving of a place in Sunday’s starting XI.


One man that will be key to Guardiola’s game plan on Sunday is Kevin De Bruyne. City’s midfield maestro has scored three times against Liverpool and has provided five assists, an excellent record against such troublesome opposition. De Bruyne has had an unstoppable start to this campaign, with 11 assists to his name in all competitions. In the 2019/20 season, De Bruyne equalled Thierry Henry’s record of 20 assists in a single Premier League season, with nine Premier League assists in just nine appearances there is no doubt that the 31-year-old will be hoping he can go a step further this season and break the record.


For the neutral, the fixture between City and Liverpool is often a treat. Often dubbed as a modern classic, these two brilliant sides rarely disappoint when placed on the same field. Both Premier League clashes last season ended in exhilarating 2-2 draws and were played at breakneck speed.


Predicted XI:


Ederson, Akanji, Dias, Ake, Cancelo, Rodri, Bernardo, De Bruyne, Foden, Haaland, Grealish

Photo courtesy of OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
 

Opposition


In the aftermath of their 3-2 defeat to Arsenal last weekend, it was confirmed that winger Luis Diaz will be unavailable until December with a knee injury he sustained against the Gunners. It was also confirmed in the fall-out of the Arsenal match that both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip will be sidelined for two weeks, meaning they will both be unavailable for this weekend’s fixture.

Other current absentees for Jurgen Klopp’s side include loanee Arthur Melo, who is expected to be out until 2023, Naby Keita, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Liverpool’s growing injury list is a contributing factor to their fans’ frustrations with how the season has started. A victory over the Premier League champions this weekend would no doubt give the whole club a major boost.


In terms of injuries, a piece of good news for Liverpool fans was the return of the reliable Andrew Robertson in the week. The Scottish international has been sidelined with a knee injury since the start of September – however, made his return off the bench in the 67th minute of their demolition job over Rangers. The Reds will also be pleased to see that 21-year-old Curtis Jones returned to training at the start of October and should be ready to be named in the Liverpool squad for Sunday’s blockbuster match.


After a slow start to the match, Liverpool were back to their devastating best in the second half of their midweek match against Rangers, beating the Scottish side 7-1. The Reds scored six goals in the second half, slicing through the Rangers back line with ease. Mohamed Salah made history by breaking the record for the fastest-ever hat-trick in the Champions League, managing to net three times in just 6 minutes and 12 seconds, despite only coming onto the field in the 68th minute.


After Wednesday night's victory, Klopp’s side look to be in a very strong position to qualify for the next round of the Champions League. Nonetheless, their domestic form has not been so impressive. Just two wins in eight games leaves Liverpool 10th in the league. Their dismal form in the Premier League means that it is their worst start in ten years in the league. Despite their bad run of form, Guardiola will be very cautious of this Liverpool side, knowing what their true capabilities are.

Photo courtesy of Michael Regan/Getty Images
 

Head-to-Head


Played: 221

Won: 58

Drawn: 56

Lost: 107


Over recent years, the fixture between City and Liverpool has been a constant head-turner. Both sides have played at incredible levels and have been the two standout sides in England for quite some time. The most recent meetings between these two great sides have been nothing short of exhilarating, with at least four goals being scored in each of their last five meetings.


In February 2021, City claimed their first league victory at Anfield since 2003, when Nicolas Anelka scored both goals in a 2-1 win. On that day in 2021, the Blues won in style, beating Liverpool 4-1 in their own back garden. Unfortunately, this was a match played behind closed doors due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Photo courtesy of Tim Keeton - Pool/Getty Images

The most recent Premier League contest between these two sides at Anfield was a lung-busting 2-2 draw in October 2021. Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne were on the scoresheet for the Blues, with the recently departed Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both scoring for the home side.


This season’s curtain raiser ended in defeat for Guardiola’s men, with Liverpool beating City 3-1 in the FA Community Shield at the King Power Stadium. This will still be fresh in the memory of the City players, therefore they will no doubt be seeking revenge on Sunday.

 

Officials


Referee: Anthony Taylor

Assistants: Gary Beswick & Adam Nunn

Fourth official: Andy Madley

VAR: Darren England

Assistant VAR: Simon Bennett

Photo courtesy of Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
 

Written by: @CharleyLongden


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