Perhaps the biggest match of the Premier League calendar, certainly in recent seasons. City have started their campaign like titles winners in waiting, whilst the reds look like they’re running through cement, with the odd fall incorporated. Recent form suggests an away win is incoming, but this last week of Champion’s League ties could point to a potential home renaissance.
Manchester City come into this game having fielded a strong line up throughout the early season, which led to Erling Haaland being rested against FC Copenhagen. That 0-0 away draw saw Pep Guardiola state his prolific striker was perhaps carrying an injury, though more likely he was just being fully rested for this specific Premier League match up.
John Stones, Kyle Walker & Kalvin Phillips are all out injured for City. Sergio Gomez or Nathan Ake will start at left back, with Joao Cancelo at right back. Ruben Dias could come back into the side to partner Aymeric Laporte at centre back. In midfield, Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne are certain starters, with either İlkay Gündoğan or Bernardo Silva taking up a role on the left. The forward line should see Haaland return, with Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez on the flanks.
For Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp has some big decisions to make. The defensive line should see Andy Robertson return at left back, with Joe Gomez continuing for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold. At centre back, Virgil Van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate will be tasked with dealing with Erling Haaland. The midfield pair of Thiago and Fabinho are likely, with Harvey Elliott or Jordan Henderson dictating the system, with either one surely starting. Up top Liverpool are without the injured Luis Diaz, so Diogo Jota will start from the left. Roberto Firmino is a guaranteed starter as either the false 9 or a 10, with Mohamed Salah hopefully playing through the middle. Darwin Nunez could drop out for the game, with more seasoned operators the likely starters.
4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 is the question for Liverpool, with starting pieces dictating the system. Liverpool ended their midweek game against Rangers in emphatic form, form which will surely see Mohamed Salah considered for the centre forward role. In that instance, Bobby Firmino would be the likely 10, with Harvey Elliott starting from the right. Equally so, a more familiar system with Henderson as RCM and Mohamed Salah as the RF is conceivable. A double pivot would make more sense, though Klopp is clearly unsure of his best starting line up right now.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain & Curtis Jones are in contention for the bench after injury, though Calvin Ramsey, Naby Keita and Arthur Melo are all out. Joel Matip will be out for a few weeks, which should see the defense pick itself.
How each team starts will be interesting, with City probably eager to start fast. Liverpool are now forever the slow starter, and a more defensive set up will be needed for the opening part of the game. With two world class coaches colliding, there’s extra buzz around this one, with Liverpool languishing in tenth position. City are the clear favourites for the league, but Pep’s side could just come into this a little too overconfident.
Liverpool’s season is all about getting back on track, making top 4, and chasing some decent cup runs. Pep will want to turn the screw on a wounded home side, and that in itself makes the contest a tantalising one.
Player to watch – Kevin De Bruyne
Liverpool 2 – 2 Manchester City