There’s no getting away from the fact that this one could have very real ramifications for the title race. Then again, we might not be any closer to knowing the destination of this season’s Premier League crown by the end of Sunday night.
Either way, it’s certainly not a football match that you should be missing. Here are six key factors to think about which all contribute to this being of the most eagerly-anticipated club fixtures in recent years.
Klopp’s Reds have won 7+ matches on the bounce on six separate occasions since 2018. They are presently riding the wave of ten straight wins, conceding on only two occasions along the way. There is the argument that they are the best team on the planet right now and there are very few counterarguments to detract from it.
Their depth in attacking areas means that Jürgen Klopp will likely leave both Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino on the bench against City, because how on earth could he justify changing a trio of Díaz, Salah and Mane that terrorized Benfica? New arrival Díaz, the Colombian wide man signed from Porto, has settled into Premier League life at a freakish pace. His dynamism and irrepressible work rate make him the perfect Klopp player.
Pep vs Klopp is a rivalry for the ages
Rivalries in sports generally extract the best out of all parties. It’s happened in individual sports like tennis down the years, and even football, the world’s most popular team sport, offers up plenty of subplots based on fascinating individual components. Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp are two such people. Their personalities and management styles couldn’t really be more different, but they’re chasing the same dream. The Premier League title race is arguably the most intriguing one across Europe, and much of that is down to how these teams are coached.
Fullbacks hold the key
Between them, Liverpool’s pair of swashbuckling fullbacks Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson has assisted every 206 minutes in the league this season. 40.2% of all of Liverpool’s goals this term have been assisted by only three players; Alexander-Arnold, Robertson and Mo Salah. If you consider the sensational performances of Man City’s ultra-talented and versatile João Cancelo this term, especially on the continental stage, the wide areas will be crucial.
Cancelo is expected to shift back over to the left-hand side of City’s defence with Kyle Walker returning on the other flank, meaning that the Portuguese will enjoy a tussle with Salah. City is a side that loves to attack through the central areas, but it’s the wide zones they’ll have to control if they are to come out on top against Liverpool.
🇧🇪 De Bruyne doing De Bruyne things
City’s brilliant Belgian has wrestled back the limelight this season after seeming to share it with the likes of Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez. He is undoubtedly Pep’s main man. KDB has five goals in his last five across all competitions, and he’s running the show on a regular basis. He scored in this season’s reverse fixture, a pulsating 2-2 draw at Anfield, and it wouldn’t be a shock if De Bruyne had his say again at the Etihad.
Goal-fest not guaranteed
The Reds have kept clean sheets in each of their last four EPL matches and have won their last 10. Man City has kept clean sheets in four of their last five across all competitions, so it should be a highly-competitive encounter of the highest quality, between two of the world’s finest teams.
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Usually a bit of friction. Also, it’s worth noting that City has lost just one of the last eight meetings across all competitions between these juggernauts. Both defences have kept 18 clean sheets this term – with no other English top-flight sides coming even close. City and Liverpool are the complete packages.
A draw looks tempting
With so much at stake and such a host of quality players at the top of their respective games on show, and the fact that two of the last three EPL head-to-heads have ended all square, a stalemate would be no great surprise. That being said, results markets are difficult to predict at the best of times on the grandest occasions, so we’re going under 2.5 goals priced at better than even money.