On March 18th, Manchester City host Liverpool in a pivotal match in the battle for the Champions League Places.
Manchester City are coming off of a heart breaking 3-1 loss in the Champions League that saw then get knocked out 6-6 on away goals. Now out of the Champions League, City sit third in the Premier League, level on points with Tottenham only behind on goal difference. City sit 10 points off Chelsea and six points inside the Champions League spots.
Liverpool have struggled all of 2017, but they have won three of their last four Premier League matches, including wins against Arsenal and Tottenham, so they’ll be hoping their 2017 struggles are over. Liverpool sit one point behind City and five inside the Champions League spots, but they’ve played one more game than everyone else and two more than Arsenal so the result could be crucial for their Champions League hopes. They have been strong against the other top teams, with five wins and four draws against the rest of the top six this season, so they’ll be hoping that form continues.
Manchester City have a mostly fit side, but will be without Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan as they both recover from their long term injuries, according to Physioroom.com.
Liverpool have a few more fitness issues to deal with. They’ll be without Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, who are both due back around April first, according to Physioroom.com. Both Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino will undergo late fitness tests, while Danny Ings is out with a long term injury, according to Physioroom.com.
Manchester City: Kevin De Bruyne
Manchester City have a loaded attack, but Kevin De Bruyne is arguably the crown jewel of it. After a fantastic debut season in Manchester, the Belgian has taken another step up this year on both sides of the ball. He has been able to play a bit deeper at times, while still scoring four Premier League goals and assisting 11 more. City will need everyone at their top level on Sunday, but De Bruyne could prove to be the difference maker.
Liverpool: Sadio Mane
Liverpool’s season kind of fell apart when Sadie Mane went away for the African Cup of Nations. Liverpool haven’t fully recovered since, but he is still producing, especially against the big teams. In the recent wins against Arsenal and Tottenham Mane was the difference maker, registering three goals and one assist. He’ll look to make the difference once again against City.
Liverpool have been fantastic against teams that don’t cede possession this season and will provide a huge challenge to this City side. Both have leaky defenses and fantastic attacks, but that could lead to both teams taking a more conservative approach than usual, as was the case when these two sides met at Anfield. My prediction for this game is a one-all draw.