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10 key things to know ahead of Liverpool vs. Man City

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Liverpool host Man City at Anfield on Sunday, in what is the biggest match of the season to date.

The Reds dismantled Porto 5-1 in the Champions League in midweek, acting as a perfect response after the 3-3 draw away to Brentford.

This weekend sees a far bigger test come their way, however, with reigning Premier League champions City taking on Jurgen Klopp‘s men.

Here are 10 things to know ahead of a huge game.

 

1. Strong start from City… but not perfect

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 15, 2021: Manchester City's manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Manchester City FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

City were the bookies’ favourites to win the title going into the new season and that hasn’t changed after six games.

That being said, Pep Guardiola’s men have shown flaws, losing at Tottenham on the opening weekend and dropping points at home to Southampton.

Last weekend’s gritty 1-0 win at Chelsea was a major statement of intent, though, and they now sit one point behind Liverpool.

Sunday will tell us much more about both sides.

 

2. Grealish making his mark

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 15, 2021: xxxx during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Manchester City FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Harry Kane may not have ended up joining City in a big-money move this summer, but Jack Grealish did.

The £100 million price tag was certainly an eye-opener, but the early signs suggest he will be a superb signing.

Grealish has two goals and assists apiece to his name already he has a level of confidence and swagger that means he won’t be daunted at Anfield, where his likely match up against James Milner will be a big focus.

 

3. Liverpool’s injuries & likely starting XI

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 25, 2021: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League match between Brentford FC and Liverpool FC at the Brentford Community Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp will again be without the services of Trent Alexander-Arnold, with the right-back suffering from a groin issue.

Midfield pair Thiago and Harvey Elliott are also absent, but otherwise, Liverpool have a full squad to choose from.

James Milner is expected to be at right-back, while Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson should also continue in defence.

Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Curtis Jones looks like the most go-to midfield-three currently, although fit-again Naby Keita is an option, too.

Meanwhile, Klopp has to choose between Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino in attack.

Likely Liverpool XI: Alisson; Milner, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Jones; Salah, Mane, Jota.

 

4. Reds change of system?

Klopp has hinted that he could switch his system around, however, arguably suggesting that a 4-2-3-1 could come into effect:

“We could change system, there are quite a few things and we have time to train this week.

“There are a lot of things possible.”

That would allow Liverpool to field both Jota and Firmino, as has been the case against City in the past.

Should Klopp alter his formation, it would presumably mean Jones makes way, allowing Fabinho and Henderson to operate as a double pivot.

 

5. Predicting City’s team

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 7, 2021: Manchester City's Phil Foden celebrates after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Guardiola has a formidable squad at his disposal, being afforded the kind of riches that most managers can only dream of.

For that reason, it is never easy second-guessing how they will line up for any game.

The team should be similar to the one that beat Chelsea, though, with Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte at centre-back and Rodri being accompanied by Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva in the middle of the park.

Grealish, Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden could make up the attack, with the latter in a false nine role and Jesus playing on the right-hand side to help out Joao Cancelo up against Mohamed Salah.

Predicted Man City XI: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo; Jesus, Grealish, Foden.

 

6. Klopp hails Europe’s best

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 7, 2021: Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp lauded City as the continent’s leading side at the moment, saying: “Man City for me are the best team in Europe at the moment.”

There could be an element of truth behind those comments, but Guardiola’s team still lost to PSG in midweek and Liverpool will fully believe they can win on Sunday.

Mind games? You decide…

 

7. City’s Anfield woes…with fans

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 10, 2019: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' celebrates scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

City’s 4-1 win at Anfield last season came at a time when Liverpool were in disarray with injuries and there were no fans in stadiums.

Frankly, does it even count?

Aside from that victory, Anfield has been a horrible ground for City, with no wins coming there since way back in 2003.

During the Guardiola era, the Citizens have lost four of the six games there – one was in the Champions League quarter-finals – with Liverpool so often outplaying them.

 

8. Did You Know?

PORTO, PORTUGAL - Tuesday, September 28, 2021: Liverpool's James Milner during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 2 game between FC Porto and Liverpool FC at the Estádio do Dragão. Liverpool won 5-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Milner has had a wonderful career, and while some may feel his spell at City was his most defining, the statistics suggest otherwise.

The 35-year-old has now made 254 appearances for Liverpool, whereas he only made 203 during his time at the Etihad.

When the Englishman joined the Reds, it was arguably seen as a career swansong, but instead, his achievements have gone on to surpass those at City.

What a player he has been.

 

9. Tierney under the spotlight

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 17, 2021: Referee Paul Tierney speaks with Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In what is a hugely high-profile game, the referee could end up playing a big part in the end result.

Michael Oliver is often tasked with taking charge of such occasions, but Paul Tierney has been given the honour this time around.

Liverpool were unbeaten in the four league matches that he refereed last season, with wins coming away to Chelsea and at home to Aston Villa, as well as draws against Man United (home) and Newcastle (away).

Tierney is yet to produce a red card in five outings this season, awarded one penalty overall, to Southampton away to Newcastle.

 

10. Sky’s Super Sunday offering

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 19, 2020: Former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher (R) and former Manchester United player Gary Neville (L) working for Sky Sports before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The match is live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football from 4pm (BST), with kickoff at 4.30pm.

Unfortunately, that does mean Martin Tyler will likely be commentating on the game, with Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville also getting in on the act.

Carragher’s interview with outgoing James Bond and big Liverpool fan Daniel Craig will air before the game.

Alternatively, Henry Jackson will be running our matchday live blog from 3.45pm, keeping you entertained and up-to-date, as long as his nerves allow him to.

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