Liverpool host Man City at Anfield on Sunday, with the Reds already 13 points behind Pep Guardiola’s side in the table. It’s not to be the ‘title match-up’ we’d have expected or wanted.
Liverpool vs Man City
Premier League (9) | Anfield
October 16, 2022 | 4.30pm (BST)
“It could be this year, just not with us,” was Jurgen Klopp‘s rather tongue-in-cheek response when asked about this match no longer being a title decider.
For Pep Guardiola, he insisted that Liverpool are still City’s main title rivals, saying “everything can happen.”
Mind games from the two bosses, both looking to take pressure off their side ahead of what will still be a huge occasion at Anfield.
The 7-1 rout over Rangers has boosted morale in the Liverpool camp, but Klopp knows his team’s domestic form – and consistency – must improve fast if they are to stand any chance of competing towards the top.
As he alluded to after last weekend’s loss at Arsenal, a meeting with City certainly isn’t exactly the perfect game for a team struggling for form in the league.
But the players should need no extra motivation for a game of this magnitude.
1. We meet again…
It’s been the standout fixture in the Premier League for several years now, and despite Liverpool’s underwhelming league form, the eyes of the football world will all be on Anfield this Sunday.
It seems like a very long time ago, but it should be remembered that the Reds were victorious the last time these two teams met in the Community Shield at the end of July.
But that win was somewhat of a false dawn for Liverpool. Since then, the form of the two teams couldn’t have been much different.
Erling Haaland has well and truly silenced any early doubters, having already scored 20 goals this season, with City one point behind league leaders Arsenal.
Another win here would put them 16 points above Liverpool, and surely end any faint title aspirations that remain at Anfield.
2. Anything to read into City’s game in midweek?
Joao Cancelo and Kevin De Bruyne were among those who started the game, with the team setting up in the 4-2-3-1 system they have adopted for the majority of this season.
Haaland, though, was an unused substitute, with Guardiola claiming he did not want to risk the striker due to fitness concerns.
Heard that one ahead of a Liverpool game before!
3. So could Haaland really miss out?
No, he’ll be fine!
In his pre-match press conference on Friday, Guardiola said Haaland, along with Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden – who he also cast doubts over in midweek – now “feel good” and “are ready” for their trip to Anfield.
No surprise there then!
English trio John Stones, Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips all remain out.
Possible Man City XI: Ederson; Akanji, Dias, Ake, Cancelo; Gundogan, Bernardo; Foden, De Bruyne, Grealish; Haaland
4. What about Liverpool team news?
Good question! Interestingly, Klopp didn’t want to give anything away in his media duties on Friday.
“We still have to figure out who is available after the Rangers game for the City game,” he insisted.
“Then we will make a lineup and we will go.”
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was pictured in training earlier this week, but is unlikely to be ready for match action for a while yet.
Let’s hope there are no other fresh injury problems after the trip to Ibrox.
5. Would 4-4-2 be a risk against City?
That’s something Klopp will be weighing up ahead of Sunday’s encounter.
The Reds have set up in a 4-4-2 in their last three matches now, and considering their last game was a 7-1 victory, there’s every chance Klopp will go with it again.
But could two midfielders and four attacking players be too risky of an approach against the champions?
If it is the same formation, the main decisions for Klopp will perhaps be who lines up in midfield next to Thiago, and who leads the line.
6. Salah hitting form at the right time?
We all remember what Mo did when these two teams met at Anfield last season.
And his record-breaking night at Ibrox on Wednesday will no doubt have boosted his confidence going into this game.
It will certainly be interesting to see if Klopp opts to persist with Salah as a central striker in the coming weeks.
In Friday’s press conference, he seemed to downplay that option.
“It’s not so different,” the manager said.
“Whichever system we play, for finishing you need to be in and around the box, that’s how it is. He was there, definitely.
“I don’t think it had too much to do with the position. There were situations when we were in possession where Mo went to the right side, to his right wing.”
7. What else has the boss had to say?
Plenty about Erling Haaland!
“Like always when you play against the best striker in the world, you have to make sure he doesn’t get that many balls.
“That is what you have to defend before you come into the challenge with him so that is what we will try.
“But against City the problem is if you close Haaland down with too many players then you open up gaps for all the other world-class players so that will not make life easier.
“It’s a challenge, a football problem but we try and find solutions.”
8. Did you know?
Avoid defeat here and Liverpool would extend their unbeaten run against City in all competitions to five games for the first time since March 2017.
Salah has scored eight goals in his 15 Liverpool appearances against City in all competitions.
Only three players – Ian Rush (15), Kenny Dalglish and Gordon Hodgson (11 each) – have scored more often for the Reds in all games against them.
Klopp has won five of his 14 league games against City, with five draws and four defeats.
Against Guardiola, Klopp has won 11 and lost nine in his managerial career with Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool.
9. Taylor in charge
The referee will be Anthony Taylor, who has taken charge of this fixture four times – all at the Etihad.
With two wins and two draws, City are unbeaten in the games Taylor has reffed between the two sides.
He has issued 27 yellows and two reds in eight top-flight games so far this season.
10. How can you follow?
For those in the UK, the game is being shown on Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Ultra HDR.
If you’re not at the match or able to watch on TV, join Sam Millne on This Is Anfield’s matchday blog from 3.45pm.
Come on you Reds!