The Premier League is now heading into its festive period, with no more breaks until the FA Cup first round. This is a crucial six weeks for every side as they go a long way to determining in what area of the league each club will be battling in. Both of these sides have high hopes, with Manchester City looking to be favourites for the title, while Liverpool will be pushing for a top four finish. City are currently top of the league on goal difference and they need to be winning against rivals, especially at the Etihad Stadium. Meanwhile, the Reds will take confidence from their win at Stamford Bridge and try to perform similarly on Saturday.
Manchester City have once again picked themselves up from a disappointing campaign to start the season with a bang. They have missed Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero for portions of the season, but they have still managed to pick up points, which they haven’t done in the past. The signings of Nicolas Otamendi and Kevin de Bruyne have had the impact that they were supposed to have, adding more quality into the squad. City have relied on four or five players in the last few years, but they now have more players that are capable of stepping in when the key players are injured.
Liverpool need to be patient with Jurgen Klopp as it will take him some time to get the squad to fully execute his system. He has picked up five points in four matches which isn’t brilliant, but there are signs of promise for Liverpool fans. Emre Can was misused by Brendan Rodgers, but he has been given a prominent role under Klopp and he will get better every week as a result. The club have also had several injuries to deal with, which has damaged the team. They will be boosted by the return of Daniel Sturridge and he could come into his own under the new boss.
In this fixture last season, the hosts ran out 3-1 winners with Steven Jovetic (2) and Sergio Aguero grabbing the goals for City. A Pablo Zabaleta own goal gave Liverpool a late consolation goal on the day. However, Liverpool managed to win the reverse fixture 2-1, with Philippe Coutinho scoring a stunning winner after Jordan Henderson gave them the lead. Edin Dzeko scored the only City goal on that occasion.
Manchester City have slowed down recently, winning just three of their last six matches. The draw against Aston Villa was particularly disappointing and it will give Manchester United and Arsenal hope in the title race.
Liverpool have scored the fewest amount of goals in the top half, which is why keeping Daniel Sturridge fit in the coming weeks is important.
Kevin de Bruyne
The Belgian came to Manchester City for a mouth-watering fee, but that is rarely mentioned now, as he has made an immediate impact. The former Chelsea player has given City an extra creative force, which has been crucial in the absence of David Silva. The Spaniard is still key to the club, but his importance has decreased significantly since the arrival of de Bruyne. He has played eight times in the league since joining the club and he has a tally of three goals and four assists, which is almost a goal involvement every match. He also scored a vitally important goal in the Champions League to give his club the three points against Sevilla. He is an excellent dribbler of the football, with the ability to weave in and out of defenders. Moreover, the attacking midfielder is also a lot quicker than people expect him to be. His dynamic style of play in the final third has added an extra bow to Manchester City’s play. The combination play between Silva, de Bruyne, Yaye Toure, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero could be devastating if Pellegrini manages to get them all on the pitch at the same time. Liverpool have looked shaky at the back this season, and de Bruyne is likely to cause them lots of problems this weekend.
Emre Can has long been tipped as a great player the making and he could quickly emerge as a key member of his club and national team under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp. The German was used in a number of positions under Brendan Rodgers and he never looked completely happy under the former manager. However, Klopp will have known a lot about the central midfielder before taking the job at Anfield and he has been used better under his compatriot. He has yet to hit top gear, but it is refreshing for Liverpool fans to see Can become a key player under Klopp. The 21-year-old is a complete midfielder, who is effective in both halves of the pitch. He is an excellent tackler and he reads the game well, which often leads to him making important interceptions in the middle of the park. He has also showed signs of attacking quality, with his passing and movement being brilliant at times. Liverpool will need their midfield to be on top form if they are going to compete at the Etihad.
Raheem Sterling is likely to start against his former club. Manchester City could be boosted by the returns of Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Sergio Aguero and David Silva. Samir Nasri and Wilfried Bony are going to be missing for the home side.
Daniel Sturridge and Kolo Toure could both make their comebacks this weekend. Jordan Ibe and James Milner are both doubts. Jordan Henderson, Mamadou Sakho, Danny Ings, Joe Gomez and Jon Flanagan are all still on the long term injury list.
This is certainly the eye-catching fixture of the weekend, and I expect there to be goals. The return of Daniel Sturridge will give Liverpool a boost if he is passed fit for the weekend. Manchester City will certainly create chances and Liverpool need to find ways to threaten the scorers as they have failed to do that so far this season. I expect Manchester City to come out as winners, but this will be an interesting test for Liverpool and we will learn a lot about their Champions League credentials.
Manchester City 3-1 Liverpool