Liverpool welcome Manchester City to Anfield on Monday morning in a blockbuster Premier League clash, with both sides looking to continue their good form.
It was a night to remember last time out for Liverpool, with new record signing Virgil van Dijk scoring a late winner to beat bitter rivals Everton 2-1 at Anfield and send the Reds into the next round in the FA Cup. That victory followed up back to back league wins of the same scoreline against Leicester City and Burnley, making it four victories in a row.
Jurgen Klopp’s side is unbeaten in 17 matches in all competitions, and confidence is high on the red half of Merseyside, which will serve them well for the visit of the league leaders.
City placed one foot in the League Cup final during the week with a 2-1 home win against Bristol City in the first leg of their semi-final tie, courtesy of a last minute Sergio Aguero goal. The Sky Blues also advanced in the FA Cup, with a resounding 4-1 victory over Burnley at the Etihad last weekend.
A 3-1 triumph against Watford in their last league encounter kept City’s unbeaten Premier League season alive, and Pep Guardiola will have every reason to expect that to continue.
Key Battle – Sergio Aguero vs Virgil van Dijk
City’s Argentine star has scored four goals in his last three games, and after enjoying a dream debut for the Reds, van Dijk will have his hands full keeping Aguero at bay.
Aguero has never scored a goal at Anfield, but has an incredible record at home against the Reds, scoring six times in seven meetings at the Etihad.
With Gabriel Jesus injured and Aguero in tremendous form, one gets the feeling that this game could be where the Argentine’s Anfield drought ends.
Van Dijk showed Liverpool fans just how much he will bring to his new side with a commanding display on debut, as he bullied Dominic Calvert-Lewin for the full 90 minutes.
The Dutchman will have a chance to really prove his worth when coming up against a world-class striker such as Aguero, and his ability to keep City’s No.10 out of the game will prove pivotal.
The winner of this battle on the pitch could well decide the winner of the match. If Aguero is on song, then City will be nigh on impossible to stop, but if van Dijk is able to keep him out of the game, the Reds will have a fantastic chance to steal victory.
Liverpool begin life without Philippe Coutinho after the Brazilian’s move to FC Barcelona. They have been bolstered by the return of Mohamed Salah to team training during the week, with the Egyptian expected to be fit to start. Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno also returned to full training, but are no certainties to feature. Captain Jordan Henderson remains sidelined, while Nathaniel Clyne continues to be a long-term absentee.
Liverpool Expected XI (4-3-3): Mignolet (GK); Gomez, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Can, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
The visitor’s will travel to Merseyside without Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden who are both currently on the treatment table. Skipper Vincent Kompany is nearing a return but is not expected to be ready for this match. David Silva is no certainty to play due to his ongoing personal issues, while Benjamin Mendy continues to be absent with a long-term knee injury.
Manchester City Expected XI (4-3-3): Ederson (GK); Walker, Otamendi, Stones, Delph; Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Gundogan; Sterling, Aguero, Sane.
Liverpool are well on the top in terms of head-to-head meetings between the two clubs, with 18 wins versus City’s eight, accompanied by 15 draws in 41 total Premier League meetings. The Reds are completely dominant at home against the Citizens, with 14 wins compared with just one victory for City at Anfield.
The Sky Blues have not won at Anfield since May 2003, and the Reds have won each of the last four matches between the two on their home turf. City have triumphed against Liverpool just once in the past six meetings in the league, a demolition in their last encounter.
City put Liverpool to the sword in September when these two sides last met, romping to a 5-0 victory at the Etihad. Sadio Mane was sent off for a high challenge on Ederson which created great controversy in the following days, but nothing could be taken away from the Sky Blues, who were scintillating and ruthless in their performance.
This has the makings of a mouth-watering clash, as arguably the two most in-form teams are pitted against each other at Anfield.
Liverpool will be out for revenge after the humbling they received at the Etihad earlier this season, and in the form they are in, a good performance and the backing of their home fans could help them over the line.
City can never be counted out, however, and their sheer quality will be a real threat to the Reds.
If anyone is to finally beat City in the Premier League this year, Liverpool have perhaps the best chance of doing it due to their excellent head-to-head history against Pep Guardiola’s men.
It will likely be a high-octane, intense game of football, with goals and chances galore, and it will be almost impossible to separate the two teams once the 90 minutes are up.
Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2