Manchester City have only beaten Liverpool once in the last four meetings between the sides with a penalty shoot-out victory over the Reds at Wembley in the League Cup final in late February of this year, but you have to go back to May 2003 to find the last time that the Citizens won at Anfield, when Nicolas Anelka scored an injury time winner. Last season Jurgen Klopp’s team managed to put seven past City in their two league meetings, but Pep Guardiola does have the advantage in their head to head meetings by four wins to three, and that famous rivalry will be revived as Liverpool seek to at least maintain their one point advantage over the Manchester outfit as the two battle for second place.
An impressive victory over Stoke City in midweek gave Liverpool their third win on the bounce after Merseyside Derby victory at Goodison and a win over Middlesbrough. That has seen the Reds overcome a slight blip which saw them lose to Bournemouth and draw with West Ham. Currently second in the table, even without the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Jurgen Klopp has got his side playing with confidence and playing well. Simon Mignolet has even managed to keep two clean sheets from his three games back in the team since replacing Loris Karius.
Manchester City too have turned things around of late, overcoming a run of three matches in all competitions without a win to see off Watford, Arsenal and Hull with each performance a little more impressive than the last. The game at the KC Stadium was hardgoing for Pep Guardiola and co. until Yaya Toure broke the deadlock which opened the floodgates in a 3-0 win. That said, all four of the team’s defeats this season have come away from home.
Liverpool predicted starting XI Manchester City predicted starting XI
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Jurgen Klopp will remain without Philippe Coutinho or Joel Matip so is unlikely to make many changes to the side which beat Stoke, but Daniel Sturridge’s goalscoring cameo may see him replace Divock Origi in attack after the Belgian’s fine run of form has come to an end with two disappointing displays against Everton and the Potters.
Pep Guardiola is likely to look to revert to using David Silva more conservatively as part of a midfield three but will most likely drop Nolito as Sergio Aguero returns from suspension. The absence of John Stones is likely to give another chance to Aleksander Kolarov in the heart of the Manchester City defence in the only other change from the line-up which beat Hull.
Suspensions and Injuries
It is looking unlikely for the Reds that Philippe Coutinho will be available for selection as he appears to be losing his battle to recover in time for this vital clash for the Reds. His absence will be felt but the biggest loss could be Joel Matip who is also set to miss out through an ankle injury which has seen him miss four of the team’s last five fixtures. Other than that there are no fresh injury concerns for the Reds, with Marko Grujic nearing a return and Danny Ings out long term.
Whilst Liverpool will be without their star man, Manchester City will be welcoming theirs back as Sergio Aguero returns from a three match suspension. John Stones is highly unlikely to feature after suffering a knee injury against Hull, whilst Leroy Sane is also unlikely to be risked as he overcomes a knock. Pablo Zabaleta will be fit after overcoming a ligament injury and Fabian Delph should be available but is unlikely to feature. Vincet Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan remain long term absentees.
Unlike so many of the big fixtures this season, this one finally seems to be one that may live up to the hype. Both sides have weaknesses in defence and are devastating in attack, meaning there could be goals galore in the final Premier League game of 2016. Liverpool will be much worse off without Coutinho and Matip, but will still fancy themselves to remain unbeaten at home this season. If Daniel Sturridge is on form, then this could be a narrow Liverpool win.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Ai Kagou.