The new year opens with the return fixture featuring the clash of the two most likely title challengers this season as defending champions Manchester City attempt to upstart the incredible form team of Liverpool, who now enjoy a significant 7-point lead at the top of the table. A fascinating six-pointer awaits!
Manchester City vs Liverpool Preview and Prediction
Fact of Interest:
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 4 matches in all competitions against Man City. Their last meeting at the Etihad featured an excellent 2-1 win in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie last season. Liverpool’s last league trip to the Etihad ended in heavy defeat, however.
- Liverpool’s last league win at the Etihad was the 4-1 away win in November 2015, early in Jurgen Klopp’s Anfield career.
- Man City have won 9 of their 10 home league games this season, the 2nd best home record in the league (27 points). They’ve scored 35 goals at home, which is far ahead of the rest of the pack in terms of home goals scored.
- Liverpool are the only remaining unbeaten side in league competition this season.
- Away from home, Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 10 away league games; their away record is the 2nd best in the league in terms of total points (26), and the best in terms of points per game (2,6). They’ve also conceded the least goals away from home thus far (5).
- Man City’s recent league form is a concern, with recent back to back defeats at home to Crystal Palace and away to Leicester. Their last clean sheet in all competitions was away to West Ham in late November. Since then, they’ve conceded at least 1 goal in their last 10 matches, leaking a total of 9 in their last 6 away matches.
- Liverpool’s recent league form is the best in the league, with 9 consecutive wins, last dropping points away to Arsenal in early November. They’ve kept 6 clean sheets in those 9 wins, 3 of 4 of them coming away from home.
- Manchester City’s goals are spread relatively evenly in matches, with 51% of their goals this season coming in the second half of matches.
- Liverpool have scored 69% of their goals this season in the second half of matches.
- Sergio Aguero has scored 6 goals in 20 appearances against Liverpool.
- Raheem Sterling has never scored against Liverpool.
- Mohamed Salah has scored 3 goals in 6 appearances against Manchester City across his Chelsea and Liverpool career. All 3 goals were scored in Liverpool Red.
- Sadio Mane has scored 5 goal in 11 appearances against Manchester City across his Southampton and Liverpool career. with two them arriving against the Citizens.
- Roberto Firmino has scored 4 goals in 10 appearances against Manchester City.
Liverpool enjoyed back to back home games (and wins) in the post Christmas schedule, while Man City faced difficult trips to Leicester and Southampton, winning the latter.
Man City recently dodged a couple of issues in this respect with key midfielder Fernandinho and centre back Vincent Kompany returning against Southampton, though left back Benjamin Mendy remains a long term absentee. Liverpool’s centre back challenges remain, with the injuries to Matip and Gomez still sustained at present.
Match Facts & Summary
|Head to Head||Man City||Liverpool|
|Current Season Record||Played 20, Won 15, Drawn 2||Played 20, Won 17, Lost 0|
|Current Season Top Scorers||Aguero / Sterling (9)||Salah (13), Mane (8)|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches||Man City 2 Wins (1 via penalties), 2 Draws, Liverpool 6 Wins|
|Last 10 Competitive Matches at Etihad||Man City 5 Wins, 2 Draws, Liverpool 3 Wins|
|Last Season’s Result||Man City 5-0 Liverpool|
|Odds of Interest (as at 29 Dec)||Man City||Liverpool|
|Odds – Result (Draw = 2.71)||1.09||2.42|
View the latest EPL Betting Odds
Expected Line-ups and Tactical Considerations:
Man City may dominate the league in average possession (63%), shots per game (18), total goals scored (51), but the numbers haven’t compensated for inherent defensive problems, especially in recent matches. Guardiola has been resilient with tactics, refusing to change his 433 system during this run, but various personnel issues have made their impact. The form of the back 4 is tepid, and the disruptive impact of injuries and forced rotations between Stones and Otamendi alongside Laporte have met with mixed results.
Nonetheless, the Spaniard is expected to stick with the strongest of his performers this season. Ederson, Danilo, Laporte should remain in the backline with debates as to whether Kompany or Stones and Zinchenko or Delph will be preferred alongside them. Midfield should feature the trio of Bernardo Silva and David Silva on either side of Fernandinho. who like the players behind them, have maintained consistent selection in the last few matches. Up front, despite some small recent rotation, Pep should revert to his current preferred forward line of Sterling, Aguero, with the only unclear choice being a selection between Sane or Mahrez. Man City’s impact weapons off the bench are worth considering, especially Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne.
Klopp’s Reds have shown a bit more tactical versatility of late, with subtle shifts between a 442, 4231 and 433 system in various matches of late. and The common denominator has been a strong focus on expanding pitch width, creating a healthy volume of shot attempts and defensive solidity. Against Arsenal, arguably Liverpool’s most stacked 4231 configuration blending attacking prowess and opponent control was used, and it’s likely that this won’t be changed too much ahead of the match at the Etihad.
The set up against Arsenal should likely be repeated for many reasons that made sense against Arsenal. Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Van Dijk with Lovren alongside the Dutchman should make up the back five. The pairing of Wijnaldum and Fabinho is expected to reprise its showing, and this should prove critical in a setup likely to require a Liverpool midfield more directly capable of managing the threat of both Bernardo and David Silva. Up front, a front 4 of Shaqiri, Firmino and Mane, behind Salah, is also likely to make an appearance.
Oddly enough, the form at the Etihad favours Man City, as does the possibility of the defending champions being the only ones capable of bursting the bubble for what seems to be an imperious Liverpool team. For all of Man City’s defensive frailties, their ability to respond in kind with goals is still the best in the league and Liverpool may have the best centre back and arguably, best keeper in the Premier League but that may not be enough to contain Man City adequately.
Liverpool’s defence has been resolute, even against the quality of Man City in their first showing at Anfield, but Klopp’s men have more than just defence on their side; they’ve found ways to score through multiple parties, and amass a healthy mix of goal types between open play, counter attacks and set pieces, giving them ways of scoring goals against almost anyone they face.
A clash that affects the title race this much has danger of becoming inconsequential the earlier it is played, but Liverpool couldn’t have asked for a better chance to capitalize on their great form and make the best of their excellent away record. Man City are not easy pickings but with the Liverpool firepower in full flow, the game has makings of a scoring clinic. This also highlights the key factor underpinning the final result; the team that figures out how best to defend the other and executes such a plan may likely find themselves lucky enough to fall upon the formula that changes this fixture from an entertaining, but nonetheless even, score draw.
Please note betting odds quoted are correct at time of publication and are subject to change. View the latest EPL Betting Odds