Three key battles to watch-out for as Liverpool take on Manchester City

The upcoming New Year’s Eve clash between Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City looks set to end 2016 with more than a bang, as the two great coaches come to blows for the first-time since their Bundesliga days with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.

 

Both teams are in red-hot form going into the game, each with four wins from their last six. Liverpool came from behind to record an impressive 4-1 win over Stoke last time out, and City had to probe patiently before breaking through at Hull to record an eventual 3-0 victory. As it always is when two teams clash as good as this, there are likely to be a number of key individual battles on the field that may decide the outcome of the match, under the watchful eye of under-fire referee Craig Pawson.

Certain players will face off against their former clubs, as these two clubs with different attacking philosophies face-off in a fixture which has yielded some classic match-ups in recent years. At The Boot Room, we take a look at three potentially crucial match-ups which could determine who keeps the pace with leaders Chelsea going into the New Year.

Ragnar Klavan vs Sergio Aguero

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With Joel Matip ruled out at centre-half after failing to shake-off the ankle injury that has kept him out of his last three matches, Jurgen Klopp will once more keep faith with his summer signing from Mainz, Estonian international Ragnar Klavan. He put in a man-of-the-match performance at Everton and didn’t disgrace himself at Stoke, but it will be a whole different kettle of fish against Manchester City at Anfield, since the clash coincides with the return of Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero from suspension.

 

The Argentine’s ban came as a result of a dismissal for an ill-timed lunge on David Luiz in City’s home defeat to Chelsea, but with ten goals already this season, he is sure to be a threat to a Liverpool defence that has seen its fragilities exposed at times this campaign, shipping 21 goals in 18 games.

Klavan will have a huge responsibility in shackling the Argentinian in what has proved the most concerning area of Liverpool’s game, and for all their attacking prowess, it may well be their capacity to keep another free-scoring side out that decides the game, rather than which team can simply outscore the other.

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