Manchester City will look to bounce back from their Champions League disappointment and extend their lead over top-four rivals, Liverpool, when the two sides meet at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The hosts crashed out of Europe on Wednesday evening after losing out to Monaco on the away goals rule, and Liverpool will look to take advantage and leapfrog their opponents in the table.
Jurgen Klopp’s will be hoping for a repeat of the result on New Years’ Eve at Anfield when his side ran out 1-0 winners and will know that doing the double over City could take them above them and into third.
See below for The Boot Room’s comprehensive preview of Liverpool’s trip to the Etihad Stadium.
With Manchester City competing in both the FA Cup and Champions League of late, they have the advantage of a game in hand over their opponents – but also face the issue of fatigue and tired legs.
Their Premier League form in the past month has been impressive, however, with Pep Guardiola’s men unbeaten in their previous six league matches, dating back to the middle of January.
Liverpool, on the other hand, have won two consecutive Premier League matches for the first time this year after a woeful start to 2017, only managing three victories in nine matches so far.
Defeats against relegation-threatened Swansea City, Leicester City, and Hull City have hugely damaged the Reds’ top-four credentials, but huge wins over Arsenal and Tottenham in recent weeks have given Jurgen Klopp’s side a huge boost in confidence ahead of yet another tricky test at the Etihad.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has no fresh injury concerns after his side’s midweek exploits in Monaco, but it’s expected he may tinker with his defence ahead of the Liverpool test.
Pablo Zabaleta is likely to return in place of Bacary Sagna at right-back, whilst Nicolas Otamendi could take his place alongside John Stones in the centre, moving Aleksander Kolarov out wide.
Long-term absentees Gabriel Jesus, Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan are out still ruled out, but Yaya Toure could be in contention for a return after being left out for the defeat in Monaco.
For the visitors, Roberto Firmino will face a late fitness test after picking up a knock in the victory over Arsenal a fortnight ago, with Divock Origi likely to drop back to the bench.
Emre Can will start in midfield once again, as Jordan Henderson remains side-lined through injury.
Pep Guardiola’s side will be undeniably hurting after their dramatic midweek exit from the Champions League and will know the perfect place to put it right is with a huge win over Liverpool.
Yet Liverpool have an unnervingly good record against fellow top-six sides this season, winning five and drawing four of their nine encounters so far this season, and they will go all out to make sure that it’s the perfect ten matches unbeaten against their rivals – but it won’t be an easy ride.
First-half performances against Tottenham and Arsenal have blown their opponents away in the last five weeks, but Guardiola will have his side prepared for this.
In a match that revolves around two sets of attacks – and two very below-par defence – it seems impossible to predict anything other than a closely-fought, high-scoring match on Sunday evening.
Predicted Score: Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool