Liverpool face one of their most pivotal Premier League games in history on Thursday; victory at Man City would put them 10 points clear of the champions.
Man City vs. Liverpool
January 3, 2019 — 8pm (GMT)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
It is hard to put the importance of this match into words, especially when you have been waiting for a league title as long as Reds supporters.
Saturday’s 5-1 drubbing of Arsenal was the latest outstanding result for Jurgen Klopp‘s side, especially having fallen behind early on.
It further proved that no Liverpool team in the Premier League era has been better equipped to be champions, with belief growing by the game.
Thursday night sees the Reds tasked with their toughest outing of the season, however, as City await at the Etihad.
Klopp’s men have built up a seven-point advantage over their rivals, following a dip in form for Pep Guardiola’s men.
It is a wonderful position to be in—an unthinkable one back in August—with so much pressure on City to get something from the game.
Liverpool must make sure they don’t limply allow their opponents an easy route back into the title race, while victory for the Reds could be a season-defining moment.
It promises to be an evening full of quality, controversy and drama, bringing back memories of those nerve-jangling 2013/14 affairs.
This fixture last season: Man City 5-0 Liverpool
There is still no Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster for Liverpool, but James Milner is fit again after recovering from a hamstring issue.
The veteran is unlikely to start, however, with a lack of match practice sure to be an issue in a game of such magnitude.
Having had four full days to recover from Saturday’s mauling of Arsenal, Klopp could name the same team that started at Anfield.
As has been the case so often of late, the back line of Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson won’t be meddled with.
Similarly, the Reds’ destructive attacking trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah will all be primed to take on City’s defence.
That leaves three places up for grabs, with in-form Gini Wijnaldum a certainty to start and Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri fighting for the other two spots.
Keita and Shaqiri seem more likely to start on the substitutes’ bench, with Klopp opting for a more robust, defensive-minded approach.
Kevin De Bruyne is an injury doubt for City, but there is every chance he will make the cut, given his importance to his team.
Guardiola is without Claudio Bravo and Benjamin Mendy, Ilkay Gundogan could also miss out and Fabian Delph is suspended after being sent off in City’s 2-1 defeat at Leicester.
Last 5 Away to Man City (All Competitions)
Won 2-1 – April 2018 (Jesus; Salah, Firmino)
Lost 5-0 – September 2017 (Aguero, Jesus x2, Sane x2)
Drew 1-1 – March 2017 (Aguero; Milner pen)
Won 4-1 – November 2015 (Aguero; Mangala OG, Coutinho, Firmino, Skrtel)
Lost 3-1 – August 2014 (Jovetic x2, Aguero; Zabaleta OG)
Away fans’ pubs: All the pubs in close proximity to the ground are Blue but Piccadilly is full of decent bars and only a fiver away via a cab.
One piece of advice for visiting fans: If you’re not wearing colours and arrive at the Etihad in plenty of time then City Square is well worth checking out.
Usually a good band to enjoy—though they will inevitably cover Blue Moon—along with an interview with a celeb.
Away-day information courtesy of Ste Tudor (@SteTudor123).
Did You Know?
Liverpool have only won once at the Etihad in the Premier League in the last decade, since the dramatic 3-2 victory in October 2008, in which Dirk Kuyt scored a last-gasp winner.
It was a win to cherish, however, as the Reds ran out 4-1 winners just a month into Klopp’s reign back in November 2015.
Eliaquim Mangala scored an own goal, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino added further efforts and Martin Skrtel finished off the scoring in style, in a performance that remains one of the best away showings of Klopp’s tenure.
Man City – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 3-1 vs. Southampton
Lost 2-1 vs. Leicester
Lost 3-2 vs. Crystal Palace
Drew 1-1 vs. Leicester (won 3-1 on penalties)
Won 3-1 vs. Everton
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 5-1 vs. Arsenal
Won 4-0 vs. Newcastle
Won 2-0 vs. Wolves
Won 3-1 vs. Man United
Won 1-0 vs. Napoli
Speaking to reporters at Melwood on Wednesday, Klopp insisted City remain the “the best in the world”:
“We have to be prepared as good as possible, be brave, full of desire, angry again, all that stuff like in all the other games.
“But with the knowledge that the opponent is, for me, still the best in the world.
“I don’t say that to say it, I said it weeks ago, it’s 100 percent my opinion.
“Because of the way they play, all the things they have achieved, the things they will achieve.
“Nothing changed, only the points changed, but not the preparation for the game.”
TV & Live Blog Info
Man City vs. Liverpool is live on Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm (GMT), with kickoff at 8pm.
Chris Williams is now on a staggering run of 26 Premier League live blogs without defeat, so he is the obvious choice to guide you through proceedings. He will be live from 7.15pm.