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PL’s marquee fixture

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Manchester City vs Liverpool preview

It is the Premier League’s newest marquee fixture. A rivalry developed after years of competing against each other at the top end of the table, Manchester City and Liverpool meet again. Although the stakes this time are not as high as usual, mainly down to Liverpool’s downfall and Arsenal’s surprise rise, any game between these two teams is always box-office.

They prove thrilling entertainment, a lesson in tactical jostling, and both clubs are home to some of world football’s biggest stars.

Manchester City would hope to keep the pressure on an increasingly rampant Arsenal in the title race while Liverpool are seeking to shrug off their early season woes to launch a late assault on that final UCL place.

Manchester City won the last meeting between these two teams, a 3-2 victory in the Carabao Cup. However, Liverpool were unbeaten against them in their last 6 fixtures, stretching back to October 2021.

Manchester City would hope to continue their winning ways against Liverpool after breaking their winless streak while Liverpool would seek to put things right.

Manchester City vs Liverpool – Team news

Manchester City go into the fixture with a nearly perfect fit team. Phil Foden had surgery for acute appendicitis which rules him out for this fixture. Erling Haaland ruled himself out of Norway’s fixture during the international break due to an adductor problem. However, it would be a huge surprise if he didn’t make the first XI for this game.

It could be one of the biggest games of youngster Rico Lewis’ career who has taken to senior football like duck to water.

There are no injury or suspension problems in the City camp, with Benjamin Mendy being the long-term absentee on account of suspension after being accused of sexual assault.

Predicted Manchester City lineup: Ederson, Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte, Rico Lewis, Rodri, Kevin de Bruyne, Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez, Jack Grealish, Erling Haaland

Meanwhile, Liverpool have worse luck when it comes to injuries. Thiago Alcantara will continue to miss time with a hip flexor issue and breakout star Stefan Bajcetic’s status is doubtful as well. However, in some respite for the Reds, this game could see the return of mercurial winger Luis Diaz, who has been out of action since Oct 10, 2022, due to a knee injury. He should be on the bench after a long-term injury, strengthening Klopp’s depth.

Darwin Nunez should start the game after shaking off an injury that forced him to miss one game. Joe Gomez’s status is uncertain but it is unlikely he starts.

Predicted Liverpool lineup: Allison, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Fabinho, James Milner, Cody Gakpo, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez

Manchester City vs Liverpool – Key players

Erling Haaland & Jack Grealish – Manchester City

One name will be a constant when it comes to Manchester City key players. Erling Haaland has bossed the Premier League since his arrival. With 42 goals in 37 games across all competitions, he has been a nightmare to deal with for opponents.

Liverpool’s centre-backs will need to be on their A-game for the full 90 and still hope Haaland has an off day to keep him quiet.

Grealish, meanwhile, doesn’t have the raw stats of Haaland (who does?) but brings a unique dimension to the side that nobody else does. His mastery of spaces and the ability to slow the game down has been crucial for Manchester City this season. Guardiola has praised his quality for the same reason. Fixtures against Liverpool have often turned into frantic, end-to-end affairs in the past which has given Guardiola sleepless nights. Grealish is the kind of player to bring calm in the chaos.

Mohamed Salah & Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool

Liverpool’s talisman Salah could line up against Manchester City’s precocious youngster Rico Lewis.

Lewis has so far acquitted himself well in senior football. He has taken on the role of an inverted wing-back seamlessly and the fans and manager have been singing praises of him. However, the challenge of a fully fit and motivated Salah will be a different beast.

Salah’s dribbling skills from the right wing, cutting inside onto his favoured left foot have left many defenders in the dust. He only needs a second to get a shot away. He will fancy his chances against the youngster and City will have to help Lewis by sending double teams Salah’s way. Grealish’s defensive work will be crucial, so will Rodri’s ability to stop the game smartly.

In the case of Virgil van Dijk, it wouldn’t be extreme to say that his duel with Haaland will decide the game. Van Dijk has copped some criticism for his lacklustre displays this season, below his usual world-class standards. However, he will need to put in a colossal performance with Konate to stifle the threat of Haaland. Otherwise, it wouldn’t matter what Salah does against Lewis, City will be out of sight due to Haaland’s goals.

Manchester City vs Liverpool prediction

The club from Merseyside has found a semblance of form after a nightmare start to the season. However, Manchester City as chasers in a title race are a different beast. Add to that the home advantage, and Liverpool might actually be happy with just a draw in this one. However, look for City to start fast and strong, get an early goal then dominate the game. FootTheBall predicts Manchester City 3-1 Liverpool.

Vatsal Gupta
A die-hard Red Devil, who has straight up not had a good time since 2012. Lives on Korean dramas and books and can often be heard talking about armchair psychological stuff.

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