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10 key things to know ahead of Liverpool vs. Man City FA Cup semi-final

The latest chapter in Liverpool and Man City‘s growing rivalry arrives on Saturday afternoon, as the pair lock horns in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

The Reds drew 3-3 at home to Benfica to reach the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday, setting up a meeting with Villarreal in what will be their third semi-final this season.

Next up is another weekend showdown with City, having played out a second 2-2 draw of the season in the Premier League just six days ago.

One team could end this season with a quadruple, while the other could win a treble. One of those opportunities will end on Saturday afternoon.

Here are 10 key things to know ahead of the huge match.

 

1. City battle past Atletico

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 10, 2022: Manchester City's manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While Liverpool were able to get past Benfica in a relatively comfortable fashion, City had an energy-sapping night away to Atletico Madrid.

Pep Guardiola’s men battled their way to a goalless draw in Spain, as the La Liga champions kicked their opponents to shreds.

The physical toll that the game may have taken on City’s players shouldn’t be played down going into the showdown with Liverpool.

Klopp’s side are arguably favourites going into the game now.

 

2. Injury concerns for City

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 3, 2021: Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Both Kyle Walker and Kevin De Bruyne failed to finish the Atletico game, with the pair hobbling off with injury problems.

They have been ‘ruled out’ of Saturday’s match after failing to recover in time, but seeing will be believing with regards to that.

De Bruyne, in particular, has been in sensational form of late, scoring six goals in seven games, so his absence would be significant.

 

3. Predicted City XI

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 15, 2021: Manchester City's Jack Grealish (L) is chased by Tottenham Hotspur's Pierre-Emile Højbjerg during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Manchester City FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We’re not going to feel sorry for City because of a few injuries, though.

Guardiola will still be able to field a starting lineup stronger than almost anyone in Europe on Saturday, with a few tweaks expected after their midweek excursions.

Joao Cancelo will likely switch to right-back in the absence of Walker, meaning Nathan Ake will slot in at left-back for a rare outing.

Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus could all come into the attack, having started on the bench in Madrid.

Possible City XI: Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Laporte, Ake; Rodri, Gundogan, Bernardo; Jesus, Grealish, Sterling.

 

4. Who’s missing for Liverpool?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 13, 2022: Liverpool's Diogo Jota during the pre-match warm-up before the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg game between Liverpool FC and SL Benfica at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool are in their healthiest injury situation in years, with Klopp afforded the luxury of a fully available squad this weekend.

Diogo Jota picked up a knock against Benfica but should have recovered from it and there are no new issues to have arisen since then.

It’s slightly different to last season’s fitness woes, that’s for sure!

 

5. Possible Reds lineup

Klopp made seven changes on Wednesday and rested some of the key players, allowing them to recharge their batteries.

Much of the team against City picks itself, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson all nailed-on to return to the fold.

The same applies to Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, so there are just a few positions giving Klopp a selection headache.

Ibrahima Konate could continue at centre-back, affording Joel Matip a rest, while Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will battle it out for the remaining starting berth.

Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Henderson; Salah, Mane, Diaz.

 

6. Klopp promises improved showing

Liverpool were far from their best at the Etihad, something Klopp admitted when speaking to the media on Thursday. The boss said he expects an improved performance this time around:

“I think City were really strong last week and we were not at our best. So I would like to see a game where we are at our best as well.

“It would be interesting, so let’s give it a try – that would be a surprise, all of a sudden we are good!

“The boys did a lot of good stuff in the game, but I really think in a couple of positions we are able to perform on a completely different level.

“I think we should give that a try.”

He just nails it every time, doesn’t he?

 

7. Liverpool’s recent FA Cup semi-final record

Perhaps surprisingly, this is just Liverpool’s second FA Cup semi-final since 2012, with their last outing a woeful 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa in 2015.

Prior to that, their success rate was strong, however, with an Andy Carroll-inspired win over Everton secured in 2012 and Chelsea seen off at Old Trafford in 2006.

The Reds also won their three semi-final clashes before that, against Wycombe (2001), Villa (1996) and Portsmouth (1992), but fell foul to Crystal Palace back in 1990.

Meanwhile, City have lost in the semis in the last two seasons, having been seen off by Arsenal and then Chelsea.

 

8. Did You Know?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 10, 2022: Manchester City's Bernardo Silva during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is only the sixth time that Liverpool and City have faced each other in the FA Cup, which may come as a surprise to some.

The first meeting came in the fifth round back in 1956, when the Citizens prevailed 2-1 at Anfield in a replay after an initial goalless draw at Maine Road.

City also won in a replay in the fourth round in 1973, before Liverpool thumped their opponents 4-0 away from home in the 1988 quarter-finals, thanks to goals from Ray Houghton, Craig Johnston, John Barnes and Peter Beardsley.

The Reds beat their opponents 4-2 in the fifth round in 2001, on their way to a cup treble, and also sealed a 1-0 win away from home in the third round in 2003, with a Danny Murphy penalty settling matters.

 

9. Oliver in charge

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, August 9, 2019: referee Michael Oliver sends his assistant off the field for a replacement battery delaying the start of the second half during the opening FA Premier League match of the season between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Many felt Michael Oliver should have been in charge of last weekend’s Premier League clash, with Manchester-born Anthony Taylor given the game instead.

Thankfully, arguably the country’s best referee will officiate Saturday’s game, while Darren England is on VAR duty.

Oliver has already overseen four Liverpool games this season, starting off with the 4-0 win at home to Arsenal and 1-0 defeat at Leicester.

He also took charge of the 6-0 mauling of Leeds at Anfield, as well as the goalless draw with Arsenal in the League Cup semi-final first leg.

 

10. Rare BBC offering

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 10, 2022: Liverpool's Andy Robertson (R) and Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Saturday’s game is live on BBC One from 3pm, with kickoff at 3.30pm (BST).

This Is Anfield’s matchday live blog will also be available from 2.45pm, with a tense Henry Jackson talking you through the action.

Come on you Reds!

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