Liverpool resume their hunt for a top-four finish with a tough fixture against Manchester City in the Premier League.
Man City vs. Liverpool
Premier League (27) | Etihad Stadium
April 1, 2023 | 12.30pm (BST)
It has been a while since Liverpool’s disappointing defeat at Bournemouth, but with familiar faces back in training, the Reds will be hoping to finally gain some consistency in this final quarter of the season.
With Newcastle and Man United playing each other on Sunday, at least one will drop points, so three points for Liverpool would make the table look a lot kinder at the end of the weekend.
Here are 10 things you need to know ahead of a big match for the Redmen.
1. Will Haaland play?
The Norwegian missed his country’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Spain and Georgia with a reported groin injury and is yet to be pictured in training prior to the match against Liverpool.
The striker instead returned from international duty early and then headed to Spain for treatment.
However, it is entirely possible that Erling Haaland will play, and that Pep Guardiola is just keeping his cards close to his chest.
In his press conference on Friday, his manager said: “Erling is recovering. We’ll see this afternoon. The last training is at 4pm and we will see how he feels.”
In any case, Man City haven’t done too badly without him over the last few years.
Phil Foden, meanwhile, was ruled out earlier in the week after undergoing appendix surgery.
Possible City XI: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Ake; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Bernardo, Haaland, Grealish
2. A tough place to go
They have been unlucky a couple of times but Liverpool’s Champions League victory, at the Etihad in 2018, remains their last win away against Man City.
From the five games played at City’s ground since then, Liverpool have taken just two points, however, their fortunes at Anfield have been very different.
In matches not at the Etihad, Liverpool have a much better record and upset the odds, earlier this season, to beat Guardiola’s team at Anfield.
3. Diaz back in the frame
Luis Diaz hasn’t been seen in Liverpool red for nearly six months, but the Colombian not far off a return now.
After training with the team this week, he has edged closer to a comeback, however, it would be wise for Jurgen Klopp to ease him back in after his initial recovery was delayed when he required knee surgery during the World Cup.
Unfortunately, he is not to make the squad for the Man City match, but he could feature in the coming weeks.
“Luis is back in small parts of training after a very long time out.
“Next week we will increase that [intensity] and then he is ready, I think. We have to judge him every day how he deals with the intensity, it looks really promising,” Klopp said.
4. Key stats for you
- Should Mo Salah score he will become the Reds’ leading scorer away from home in the Premier League era. He is currently on 55 goals, alongside Michael Owen
- Salah could become the first Liverpool player in history to score against Man City in four games in the same season, having already netted in the Community Shield, Premier League and League Cup
- Never before have the teams drawn three successive league games in Manchester
5. Sticking with Gakpo?
The Dutchman missed the first part of the international break with illness but did play 45 minutes against Gibraltar on Monday, replacing the former-Liverpool player, Gini Wijnaldum, at halftime.
With Diaz back in the picture and Diogo Jota continuing to regain his match fitness, Cody Gakpo‘s spot in the starting XI may come under threat.
Expect Klopp to stick with the January signing against Man City, though, as too Darwin Nunez after a cut to his ankle that forced his withdrawal from international duty.
Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Elliott; Salah, Nunez, Gakpo
6. No Naby again
Liverpool’s already-depleted midfield suffered another blow this week as Naby Keita returned from international duty with an injury issue.
Klopp confirmed the reports before the weekend’s match in Manchester, saying: “Naby is out. He came back with a muscle injury from the national team.
“We will see how long it takes but the season is not too long.”
Promisingly, though, Klopp is hopeful of seeing Thiago return to “parts” of team training next week after missing the last eight games with a hip injury.
7. “Like a Champions League week”
The next few fixtures are among the trickiest that a Premier League club can face.
In the next week alone, Liverpool play Man City, Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and table-toppers Arsenal at Anfield – a run Klopp described as being “like a Champions League week.”
They are just the first three games in a month of seven fixtures, from which the Reds will need to take at least 15 of the 21 points on offer if they are to realistically have any chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Liverpool are currently seven points behind Tottenham in fourth but have two games in hand on the North London club.
8. Back after a break
Seventeen days have passed since Liverpool fell to a 1-0 loss at Bournemouth.
Once again, the Reds been given the Saturday lunchtime kick-off following an international break.
It is the sixth time already this season that Liverpool have played in the 12.30pm slot – the most in the league along with Saturday’s opponents.
Klopp’s side have not won any of their early kick-offs so far, losing two and drawing three – four of those five matches were away from home.
Now wouldn’t be a bad time to get the first, Reds!
9. Hooper in charge
Simon Hooper has been named as the referee for Saturday’s meeting game at the Etihad.
It will be the official’s third Liverpool game of the season, with the most recent fixture coming at Anfield for February’s Merseyside derby.
Hooper will have a difficult job on Saturday as the fixtures between Klopp and Guardiola’s team are always frantic and fraught with incidents.
John Brooks is the VAR.
10. Follow the match with TIA
Man City vs. Liverpool is live on BT Sport 1 with kick-off at 12.30pm (BST).
TIA’s matchday live blog will be up and running from 11.45am, with Sam Millne tasked with keeping you entertained and up-to-date.
Come on you Reds!