It’s all led up to this big moment. Liverpool have had a near-perfect season in the Premier League, only dropping points once and showcasing the heart of champions in the comeback win over Aston Villa.
But to truly assert themselves as serious contenders, they need to go through two-time defending champions Manchester City. If you are picking this fixture as part of your weekend yankee bet, backing a draw is a safe option – this is one of the toughest fixtures to predict this season and the bookmakers have hedged their odds as well.
The Citizens aren’t as defensively strong as they were last time out, being forced to play Fernandinho at centre-back and struggling against mobile attackers.
This gives Liverpool the perfect opportunity to pounce on their vulnerabilities at Anfield, where they are undefeated in the league for the last 45 games!
Ederson is a major doubt for the trip after picking up a knock in their Champions League game at mid-week, but the Reds have a fully fit unit raring to take the battle to the defending champions.
Of course, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino haven’t been at their best recently. But knowing their hunger, City would be the perfect opposition to make a big impact against.
With their defence stuttering, Jurgen Klopp will unleash the chains to march his side forward and build a unbeatable lead at the top of the Premier League table. With Trent Alexander-Arnold in excellent creative shape and Andy Robertson thriving, optimism is flourishing.
But the Reds have their own defensive issues, having last kept a league clean-sheet against Sheffield United. City might be struggling defensively, but are relentless in attack.
Kevin De Bruyne’s creating chances as he wills, Sergio Aguero’s scoring them and Rahim Sterling looks a complete package set to churn up a storm at his old home.
Liverpool Predicted XI
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Manchester City Predicted XI
Bravo, Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy, Rodri, De Bruyne, D. Silva, B. Silva, Aguero, Sterling.
Sadio Mane vs Kyle Walker
Sadio Mane proved to be Liverpool’s hero again with a wondrous finish to the game against Aston Villa. The Senegalese winger’s elevated to a quintessential cog for the Reds and with his expert finishing and dangerous movement, fireworks will be guaranteed.
Kyle Walker had to shift in as a makeshift goalkeeper against Atalanta, but faces a bigger task keeping Mane quiet.
After Pep Guardiola accused him of diving, the Senegalese will be raring to prove his doubters wrong by churning up a storm and using his clinical nature to Liverpool’s advantage.
Kevin de Bruyne vs Fabinho
So knowing both team’s strengths, it’s evident that the battle will be contested in midfield. Kevin de Bruyne is arguably the most dangerous midfielder in the world right now.
Fabinho is among the best defensive midfielders. This should be a feisty battle. The Brazilian must keep a close check on de Bruyne, tracking his clever runs and stopping him from flaring in the crosses or creative passes.
If allowed to roam free, the Belgian can run riot. Fabinho must retain utmost concentration, put in strong challenges and derail his opposition’s confidence to win the mental battle.