Key battles for Man City vs Liverpool this weekend

Published on 22 November 2023 at 21:58

Liverpool travel to Manchester City in the Premier League for the Saturday lunchtime kick-off—a favourite of Jurgen Klopp’s.

The German will look to outwit his Catalan opponent in the rival technical area as he looks to leave the Etihad with a win for the first time since 2015.

Despite this drought of away victories against their inter-city rivals, the Reds managed to lift the Premier League, while City have lifted it another five times, but in dubious circumstances following the 115 charges that have been laid at their door and the sentence that Everton have been handed.

This will certainly be a motivating factor for many of the players who will feel they have been robbed of further honours by the Sky Blues.

Ederson has been given the nod as the first-choice goalkeeper for Brazil recently, despite looking questionable when called upon, whereas Alisson has arguably been Liverpool’s best player for the last 18 months as he has single-handedly kept the side in positions to win games.

The desire to demonstrate to Fernando Diniz that he is the number one keeper will drive Alisson for this fixture, and with the opportunity to show he is better than his compatriot, as it is expected if he is fit, Ederson will start.

City conceded four goals in their last outing—the first time since a 5-2 defeat to Leicester City in September 2020—and Pep Guardiola will expect a better outing for his defence.

Key to this improvement will be the left side of defence, something that Klopp will likely target. Joško Gvardiol started on the left side against Chelsea, but if fit, expect Dutch defender Nathan Ake to start there due to the ease and comfort he has in this position.

Yet this change will be to deal with the main Liverpool threat of Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian winger has been on form this season for both club and country, with the winger needing a big game to bring three points back to Anfield.

Salah is a leader. He inspires others on the pitch. His creativity and clinical nature will be required to get Klopp’s side over the line, but in order to have an influence, he requires the ball.

This job falls to Alexis MacAllister. The World Cup winner will be given the difficult task of looking to quell the creativity of the City midfield. He will need to stop the likes of Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne, who are making an impressive recovery from injury, from making chances for the Blues dangermen.

One of these dangermen will be key to cutting Liverpool open: Jeremy Doku. The Belgian has been on fire for City and will require a rock at the back to stop him. The task will likely fall to Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has not been known for his defensive solidity but has grown in his role as vice-captain. The full-back has been vital to the Liverpool attack for a number of years now, but the vast improvement that has been required in his defensive approach is now seemingly improving game upon game, with the major test being this weekend.

The weekend game will likely be a humdinger like many of their past meetings, but Liverpool and Klopp will be cheered on every second of the game as they square off with a club that has 115 charges, and people are questioning the legitimacy of their rise to the top of European football.


By Brendan McGilligan

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