The highlight of the weekend’s fixtures takes place early on Saturday. Manchester City host Liverpool and it will be an entertaining fixture, even if the visitors are not competing for the league title. They will be determined to get their top four challenge back on track and a victory over the current champions would be huge. For Pep Guardiola’s side, they will know that they have little margin for error in their title fight. Arsenal look to be unstoppable at the moment. City may need to win all of their remaining matches to retain their title. That is not beyond them.
Manchester City still have plenty to play for as they are chasing Arsenal and remain in two cup competitions. Guardiola will not want to admit it, but the Champions League will be the trophy that they want most of all. That could cause selection issues in the weeks ahead. This weekend offers a good chance for the side to re-focus on club football and test themselves against a very good team. A win against Liverpool will give City plenty of confidence ahead of the run-in, as it has been a difficult fixture for them in recent seasons.
Liverpool will not be happy to be in their current position. They are fighting to finish in the top four and are not in any cup competitions. In hindsight, this campaign may be viewed as the end of an era. There will be regrets that more squad surgery wasn’t completed during the summer, as they look a long way off the pace. That said, they are still fighting to qualify for next season’s Champions League. It is important that they do succeed in that. If they fail, it will hold them back over the summer.
Manchester City have only lost one of their last 13 Premier League home matches against Liverpool.
If Liverpool win on Saturday, they will complete a double over Manchester City for only the second time in the last 17 years.
Over the last few seasons, Kevin de Bruyne has been a very consistent performer for Manchester City. The Belgian usually performed best in the big matches, which is why he has the reputation that he has. City will want him to be at his best for the rest of the season as there will be a number of big matches across three competitions. At the age of 31, De Bruyne should be at the peak of his powers and he will be relishing the chance to finish the season at his best. In the Premier League, he has contributed four goals and 12 assists, in another very good campaign. The former Chelsea midfielder has struck up a great relationship with Erling Haaland. That partnership could be the key to helping City finally triumph in the Champions League. The fitness of Haaland is unknown this weekend. If he doesn’t feature, there will be greater emphasis on De Bruyne to perform.
There has been a lot of uncertainty over the Liverpool team this season. Not many of the current squad have been certain of their starting position. Mohamed Salah has been an exception, as he has continued to be the first name on the team sheet in attack. The Egyptian will be disappointed that the team are not competing for major honours, but he has continued to be a regular scorer of goals. He remains one of the best players in Europe. The arrival of Haaland has put him in the shadows to some extent and he will be keen to deliver a good performance this weekend. In the Premier League, he has contributed 11 goals and seven assists. It speaks to Salah’s unbelievable high standards that this is seen as an underwhelming season for him. He will be the key to Liverpool’s top four hopes.
Erling Haaland is a huge doubt. He pulled out of international duty and still isn’t in full training. Phil Foden left England duty early due to an illness.
Stefan Bajcetic has been ruled out for the rest of the season. Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz, Joe Gomez and Thiago are all doubts.
This is going to be a great game. There are normally goals when these two teams meet and that should be expected on Saturday. Liverpool will know that they don’t have the structure to keep City out, which means their best chance of winning is to attack their hosts. City should have enough quality to control the game, but Liverpool will carry a huge threat. The home side should have just enough, but it isn’t a guaranteed three points for them.
Manchester City 3-2 Liverpool