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Manchester City vs Liverpool: Premier League match preview, likely line-ups and score prediction

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Predicted Line-Ups

Match Prediction

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.

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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

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

Crystal Palace

Three potential England replacements for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

The Liverpool midfielder has been ruled out of the summer’s World Cup.

Jake Jackman

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It looked bad for Liverpool and England when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was stretchered off during the first half of the Reds’ game against AS Roma in the Champions League and their worst fears were confirmed on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old has suffered a knee injury, which will keep him out of the rest of the season and this summer’s World Cup.

This is incredibly harsh news to take for the midfielder, who had been playing the best football of his career under Jurgen Klopp.

Last summer, he made a huge career decision as he chose to leave Arsenal to join top-six rivals Liverpool and, in hindsight, it has been a great move for him.

His influence and consistency have stood out from the centre of the park and England would have benefitted from that in Russia.

However, Gareth Southgate needs to readjust quickly and find a suitable alternative to the Liverpool midfielder.

Here are three players that could replace Oxlade-Chamberlain and receive a World Cup call this summer:

Ruben Loftus-Cheek – Crystal Palace

The injury to Oxlade-Chamberlain has opened up an opportunity for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who will now have a chance of making the plane for Russia.

The midfielder has impressed at Crystal Palace and he delivered an assured performance against Germany on his international debut. Although injuries have hindered his progress since he remains one of the only dynamic midfielders available to Gareth Southgate.

Against Germany, he completed 96.2% of his passes and completed four successful dribbles. There were a lot of people that thought the call came too soon, but he looked at home on the international stage and he will be unknown to a lot of the teams England are due to face.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was going to provide the power and pace in the England midfield. Loftus-Cheek may not be as experienced as the Liverpool man, but he can step up and perform a similar role. If he can finish the season strongly, he will have a great chance of making the squad.

England Training Session And Press Conference

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Jonjo Shelvey – Newcastle United

There are growing calls for the Newcastle United midfielder to be called up by Gareth Southgate and they will only increase with the news of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury.

Shelvey won’t be able to step into the same role, but he can provide different qualities and could be a worthy selection for England.

Newcastle’s recent surge up the league table have shown Shelvey in a good light and he has been a major reason for his team’s success.

The 26-year-old dictates the game from deep and has a passing range that can’t be matched by any other English player.

Against Arsenal, he was putting his team-mates in on goal at will and there is a place for his skills in the national set-up.

England have a number of quick attacking players and against better teams, Shelvey would provide a good option.

Southgate will need to set his side up to counter-attack and there is no better player to pick out the runs of Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy than the Newcastle midfielder.

There are risks to selecting the 26-year-old, but he deserves to be considered for the summer’s tournament.

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Dele Alli – Tottenham

The Tottenham midfielder is going to go to the World Cup. Nobody can debate that, but he has found himself out of the starting eleven during recent friendly matches.

The injury to Oxlade-Chamberlain may benefit him, as there will now be a midfield position up for grabs.

Alli isn’t as comfortable in a central role as Oxlade-Chamberlain, but his goal threat and intelligent movement means that he could step into the starting eleven and play well.

The 22-year-old has had his critics this season, but a return of eight goals and ten assists in the Premier League underline the quality that he provides to a team.

Southgate will need to make sure Alli knows his defensive responsibilities and that the player carries them out to the letter, as England can’t afford to carry a midfield player.

At the age of 22, this summer could be an opportunity to break out for the Tottenham man.

It would be a risk to start him in a deeper role, but the rewards may be worth it.

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English Premier League

Liverpool fans licking lips at potential Mohamed Salah duel with Marcelo

Liverpool v Real Madrid is now the likely Champions League final, and Salah could leave Marcelo exposed.

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Real Madrid are now looking likely to be in the Champions League final against Liverpool after they defeated Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. After Joshua Kimmich gave Bayern the lead, it seemed the Bavarians might manage to upset the bookmakers and send Real crashing out. But goals from Marcelo and Marcos Asensio saw Real pick up a vital away win.

With Liverpool winning their first-leg against Roma 5-2, the two sides look well placed to make the final in Kiev.

Real Madrid might have won the game, but it was a performance that left Liverpool fans hopeful of facing Los Merengues in the Champions League final.

The Reds currently have perhaps the best player in world football today. Mohamed Salah has been a revelation since joining the side in the summer. Since arriving at Anfield from Roma he has scored 43 goals for the club and put his former side to the sword last night.

(Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

He infiltrated Roma’s weak and attack-minded left side over and over again in the first-leg and Liverpool fans believe he will do the same if they face Madrid.

Whilst Marcelo may have scored in the game, he did not put in the best of performances.

He left an acre of space for Kimmich to run into for Bayern’s goal. He struggled to deal with Thomas Muller at times, but if Arjen Robben had remained on the pitch it is fair to wonder if Marcelo may have had a more torrid time.

Liverpool fans are certainly excited at the prospect of Salah perhaps facing off with Marcelo in the Champions League final. Defending is not the Brazilian’s favourite aspect of his job and fans at Anfield feel that Salah might be able to leave him embarrassed if they go toe-to-toe.

Based on the evidence of the past two nights, it is hard to disagree with the Liverpool fans who feel Salah can leave Marcelo trailing…

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Championship

Kevin Stewart has not proven Liverpool wrong for £8 million sale

Liverpool sold the midfielder to Hull City in the summer.

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In the summer Liverpool decided to let midfielder Kevin Stewart leave the club. The 24-year-old had caused a stir when he followed Academy Director Alex Inglethorpe from Tottenham Hotspur to Liverpool in 2014.

The versatile player soon spent time out on loan with the likes of Cheltenham Town, Burton Albion and Swindon Town before finding his way into the Liverpool first-team picture under Jurgen Klopp.

He played 111 times for the club in the 2015-16 season, an impressive tally for the youngster who had established his best position as a holding midfielder.

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But after just nine appearances last term he made a permanent move from Liverpool in the summer. The Reds decided to let him go after recently relegated Hull City made a bid to bring him in, as a replacement for the Derby County-bound Tom Huddlestone.

It was reported by The Telegraph that the deal was worth around £8 million for the player to head to the KCOM Stadium. The Hull Daily Mail have since reported that the initial fee for the player is just £4 million, but it could rise to £8m with add-ons.

So far, Liverpool will not feel they made a mistake letting him go. Stewart has had a tough season with The Tigers.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

He suffered an injury during his Hull debut against QPR back in August and that essentially sums up his season. He has played just 16 times in the Championship this season whilst Hull have been fighting a relegation battle. In fact, there improved form came at a time when Stewart was out of action.

In February, Hull were on the end of a 4-0 thrashing in the FA Cup against Chelsea. The result reflected a poor performance from Hull but the local media pointed the finger at the former Liverpool man. The Hull Daily Mail, in fact, labelled him Hull’s ‘weak link’ in their match report.

At times during his stay at Liverpool, it looked as though Stewart might have a future at the club. But that has not proved to be the case after a series of disappointing displays and injury turmoil.

Hopefully, next season Stewart can have more of an impact at Hull. But, right now, it seems Liverpool will have no regrets about his sale.

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