Our footy writer previews the eye-catching EPL encounter between Man City and Liverpool.
Liverpool’s impressive record against the big guns will be put to the test once more when they travel to the Etihad Stadium to take on Manchester City. The Citizens are unbeaten in the league since they lost 4-0 to Merseyside giants, Everton, at Goodison Park in January – before that, it was Liverpool’s 1-0 win over them on New Years Eve.
The Reds will be looking for their first win away from home since the start of the year, with their 1-0 win at Plymouth in the FA Cup being their only victory across all competitions away from Anfield in 2017. Both sides ply their trade on attacking football, so we could be in for a cracking encounter with lots of goals expected.
English Premier League | Sunday 19 March | Etihad Stadium | 18:30
To Win (90 Mins)
Manchester City 19/20 | Draw 26/10 | Liverpool 26/10
With one eye set on their UEFA Champions League encounter against Monaco in midweek, Manchester City know all about the threat that Liverpool pose when they host the Reds this weekend.
Pep Guardiola’s Sky Blues come into this game in fairly decent form. City have been criticised for their defence this season, but surprisingly, they’ve kept four clean sheets in their last five matches, including three in a row – that’s 270 minutes of action without shipping in a goal.
And as seen for City, Guardiola doesn’t believe in the normal way of defending. His philosophy is to keep the ball. If you do that, you cannot concede.
“When you attack good, you defend good,” said Guardiola, “We defend 40m away because I always believe that when the ball’s far from our goal, we’re safe. The reason we’re creating more goals and conceding fewer is the way we play,” the Man City boss continued.
Man City have been on top of their game at the Etihad Stadium, losing just once in front of their home crowd. Star-striker, Gabriel Jesus, is still out injured with a broken ankle, but City will keep their front three of Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero and former Red, Raheem Sterling, up top.
The trio have been formidable for City this season and have the luxury of having Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva just behind them in midfield. With those five players in form, City are almost guaranteed to hurt any defence.
City’s all-time top scorer in the Premier League, Aguero, will be looking to extend his prolific tally of 114 goals this weekend, while it will be no love lost for Sterling, who served the Reds for five years before leaving for the Citizens in 2015.
Liverpool, who were the only side from the big six competing in the Premier League last weekend, had an opportunity to close the margin on the teams above them, shortening the gap to just one point behind third-placed Manchester City. Jurgen Klopp’s side still have a mountain to climb if they are to keep their UEFA Champions League spot intact, with both Arsenal and Manchester United hot on their heels.
What Liverpool managed to do last weekend impressed me big time. The Reds picked up their first ‘ugly’ win of the season, with Burnley seeing more of the ball and having more shots in their 2-1 win at Anfield. It’s those sort of games that show a team’s character.
"Usually when we were not at our best we’ve lost and in a few parts of the game we weren’t at our best actually,” Klopp admitted.
"If you’re not at your best it’s a close game and that’s how it was. We were not dominant enough to avoid Burnley’s game, they did what they want to do,” he continued.
Liverpool should welcome back Roberto Firmino for this match, who missed out last weekend due to a knock. The Reds just don’t look the same without the 25-year old Brazilian. When he’s on the pitch, fellow countryman, Philippe Coutinho, and £34 million signing, Sadio Mane, all play their best football.
The trio have become one of the most recognised front-three in all of Europe with their remarkable style of play, dribbling skills and the way they share the goals amongst themselves. With Firmino given the green light to play, one player who will be out is club-captain, Jordan Henderson.
Speaking on Henderson’s injury, Klopp said, “That’s how it is. He cannot train, he for sure cannot play against City and it makes sense that he is doing the rehab.” Liverpool still have an abundance of attacking talent on show, including 2016 England Player of the Year, Adam Lallana, who has seven goals and seven assists to his name in the league this season.
Verdict: Sterling To Score Anytime & Man City To Win (3/1)
Liverpool have been the rest of the big teams’ nightmare this season. However, with the Reds going through a rough patch of form away from Anfield, now is the perfect time for Man City to claim bragging rights.
Klopp’s side have conceded too many goals for a team competing for top four. Personally, I don’t see the Reds making it come the end of the season and I’m backing them to fall short here. The pace of Sterling could be a worry for Liverpool, with the Englishman tipped to get on the scoresheet. Back Manchester City to Win & Sterling to Score Anytime at a great price of 3/1.
Written by Jesse Nagel @Hollywoodbets