Liverpool are back in Premier League action for the first time since New Year’s day and the Reds are welcoming the undefeated Manchester City to Anfield for the big game this Sunday evening. After three successive 2-1 wins, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side have had over a week to prepare for the visit of the Citizens and following the 5-0 loss at the Etihad earlier in the season, the squad should be well up for the game, despite the departure of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona. Here’s The Anfield Talk’s Anthony (@anthonymarkmcav) with your match preview. Match-day 23? Into these.
DATE: JANUARY 14TH 2018
WHO: LIVERPOOL VS MANCHESTER CITY
TIME: 16:00PM (GMT)
REFEREE: ANTHONY TAYLOR
Coutin-who? O Magico has left to for Catalonia and has left his best buddy Roberto Firmino all alone in the Liverpool side. At least we now only have players that want to show desire to play for the side. Well, except Turin-bound Emre Can. In the not-to-distant past, we’d be loving to have all of our fab four starting this game, but the four has become three.
Mohamed Salah returns to the squad after spending the last fortnight on the sidelines. Alberto Moreno also returned to training this week but it’ll probably be too early for the Spaniard to be in the starting lineup, especially following Andrew Robertson’s terrific performance against Everton.
In other injury news, Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge and Adam Bogdan all remain out with their various injuries and issues. Been a while since Dan Sturridge’s ‘minor’ injury. The English forward may find himself leaving Anfield this winter, with him rumoured to have offered himself to Inter Milan on loan.
Benjamin Mendy will continue to only play on Twitter as he is still injured. Vincent Kompany, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus join the French fullback on the injured list.
David Silva may also miss out but for personal reasons.
Over the last 18 games, there seems to be nothing that the Liverpool side can’t do. Winning games by big margins and toughing out scrappy wins here and there and whereas we might regret what happened at the Etihad way back in September, it’s a completely different game this time.
Klopp will be eager to field a nigh-on full strength Liverpool squad for this one, with Simon Mignolet regaining his position of goalkeeper. Joel Matip will probably continue to partner Virgil van Dijk at centre-half, despite being made of crisps, as the Reds look for some consistency at the back.
Joe Gomez will probably come in at right-back, as he is more defensively sound than Trent Alexander-Arnold. As I mentioned before Andy Robertson will retain his position in the squad.
As for the midfield arc, it gets rather more difficult to say who will play where. Emre Can is seemingly off to Juventus in the near future, possibly risking his place in the starting lineup. We could see James Milner replacing him, with Adam Lallana and Gini Wijnaldum playing ahead of him in the 6 role.
The attacking trio picks itself and we probably need some depth here now. They can’t be playing every single game without injury. We’ll be in a tough spot and having to change system if anyone gets injured. Well, except Mane in my opinion as we can play with Firmino and Salah up front but that’s a topic for another article.
Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson; James Milner, Adam Lallana, Gini Wijnaldum; Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah
Manchester City: Ederson, Fabian Delph, Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones, Kyle Walker; David Silva, Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne; Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane
If we looked exclusively at the last five or six games then Liverpool’s and Manchester City’s form would look very similar. However, no other side has really been able to play consistently to the standard that Manchester City have this season, winning all but one of their Premier League games this season. Liverpool have beaten Burnley, Leicester, Swansea and Bournemouth recently so there isn’t a stand-out impressive result there, but Jurgen Klopp will be hoping that his side can change that this Sunday.
Key Battle: Virgil van Dijk vs Sergio Aguero
Jurgen Klopp’s brainchild is one step closer to being complete with the signing of Virgil van Dijk but as the Dutchman approached two weeks on Merseyside he may already be in for his toughest test of the season in Red as Sergio Aguero will undoubtedly lead the line for the Citizens. Whether van Dijk will get the better of Aguero or if Aguero can put van Dijk to the blade is yet to be established, especially in their current set-ups.
The wheel is turning now in the machine that is Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and the Reds have looked increasingly solid defensively despite not keeping a clean sheet in their last three games in all competitions.
Aguero’s pedigree is well-documented but so it van Dijk’s. Tough to call this one, but SkySports went much more in-depth on the topic, because they stole my thing. I’m not bitter, honest.
What Klopp Said:
“We lost plenty of players at Dortmund. You always have to react. It’s about the atmosphere in the club. If we get a FK on Sunday and anyone is thinking ‘Phil!’ that wouldn’t be too cool.”
“It’s interesting to play against City. They play really good and if you don’t respect that, you have a problem. But if you are not brave in your game, you will also have a problem. You need to show up.”
“The strength of Man City is their tactical discipline. We lost a player in the game there and conceded five. It was a different situation. We have since found our way.”
“If the centre-halves have nothing to do it means our pressing is good – I’ll take that. It’s not guaranteed Virgil van Dijk will start every game”
“We played there a few months ago and it was one of the stranger games of my life. The red card (for Mané) changed the game and maybe for Man City the season.”
On VVD: “He was quite impressive v Everton. This is a completely different game v City. The team’s tactics should be as tuned as possible.”
Run the numbers and you’ll find that Liverpool and Manchester City have a very similar way of playing. The blue side of Manchester has just been able to figure out their defensive issues quicker that the Reds have. The weight of this game cannot be understated and Liverpool will come out all guns blazing trying to get a result here. I think we see a 3-1 win for the reds. With Salah scoring a brace and Degsy Lovren scoring. Let’s go into this one hopeful, and no red cards, please.