Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City travel to Anfield on Sunday to face Liverpool
Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City travel to Anfield on Sunday to face Liverpool in what should serve up a thrilling encounter. Jurgen Klopp’s side will be looking to avenge their humiliating 5-0 defeat against Pep Guardiola’s men at the Etihad in September and target a fifth straight home win over the Citizens in the Premier League. Two of the league’s best performers this season, Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne, come up against each other, but who will stand out on the day?
English Premier League | Sunday 14 January | Anfield | 18:00
Liverpool 2/1 | Draw 26/10 | Man City 23/20
Liverpool find themselves fourth in the Premier League table after 22 matches. The Reds are unbeaten in 13 league games with nine wins, including three on the spin; recording back-to-back home wins over Swansea and Leicester, before snatching a late victory over Burnley at Turf Moor. Klopp’s side remain undefeated at Anfield from 11 matches this season, however, they’ve drawn five times – only Brighton (6) and West Brom (7) have drawn more at home. The Reds have netted 21 goals on their ground while conceding just four to boast the best home defensive record in the league. However, they let in 21 goals away from home – only Huddersfield (23), West Ham (24) and Stoke (27) shipped more on their travels.
Virgil van Dijk’s arrival will strengthen Liverpool’s defence and he’ll walk straight into the line-up. Defenders Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan really struggled against City’s attack at the Etihad in September and Van Dijk’s quality will surely be needed. The Dutchman is comfortable on the ball and capable of launching attacks from deep, which makes him perfect for Klopp’s side. While Klopp will be delighted to have Van Dijk, he’ll be very disappointed to have lost Philippe Coutinho earlier this week, with the Brazilian joining Spanish giants Barcelona for £143million. Klopp must now decide whether to go with Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Emre Can, who has reportedly agreed to join Juventus at the end of the season.
Despite the loss of Coutinho, the Reds will fancy their chances of handing Guardiola’s men their first defeat of the season as they’ve beaten City in their previous four home meetings. In fact, the Citizens have failed to win in their last 16 visits to Anfield, losing 10 times. With that impressive home record, the addition of Van Dijk and the lethal attack, Liverpool will be confident of victory.
Manchester City are flying high at the top of the Premier League table with 20 wins and two draws from 22 matches, holding a 15-point lead over second-placed Manchester United. Guardiola’s men have scored a remarkable 64 goals while conceding 13, boasting the best attack and defence in the league. Having thrashed a 10-man Liverpool side 5-0 at the Etihad in September, City will be looking to complete a Premier League double over the Reds for the first time in their history.
The Citizens comfortably beat Watford 3-1 at home in their last league encounter, but they dropped two points in their last away match, drawing 0-0 at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace – ending an 18-match winning streak in the Premier League. Guardiola’s men were very lucky to even get two points as Luka Milivojevic missed an injury-time penalty for Palace. Prior to that game, City had won 11 consecutive away games in the league, including victories at Chelsea and Manchester United. Despite having a good advantage at the top of the league, Guardiola’s runaway leaders will want to claim their first win at Anfield since May 2003.
Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero have 14 and 13 goals respectively and they’ll look to fire the Citizens to victory. Sterling, who joined from Liverpool in July 2015 for £50m, is starting to live up to his potential under Guardiola’s guidance, playing a key part in this history-making Manchester City side. The 23-year-old has scored in each of City’s last four league wins – netting five – and he’d love a goal against his old club.
Verdict: Liverpool Win (2/1)
City really humiliated Liverpool in the reverse fixture and the Reds will be desperate to get some payback. Klopp’s side boast an impressive home record over the Citizens and with Van Dijk in the side and Salah in devastating form, the odds are way too high on the hosts. I’m backing Liverpool to hand Guardiola’s men their first loss of the campaign.