Liverpool are flying and Manchester City are trying to stay in touch. Thursday’s match pits the masters of the pressing game against each other.
The Reds are still undefeated, thanks to Riyad Mahrez’s penalty miss in the first meeting in the season – a match that showed Pep Guardiola learned some things from the beatings City received from Liverpool last season.
So, who will be pressed into submission?
Both are committed to winning the ball very close to the opponent’s box and both teams are blessed with very pacy forwards.
The downside for City last season, apart from the first meeting in which Sane was sent off and City won 5-0, Liverpool have successfully compressed the pitch and suffocated City though a lot will depend on the players picked by both managers.
Three Duels to Watch
Fernandinho v Fabinho
Two Brazilians, Fernandinho and Fabinho are the quality midfield foils that will be employed by both City and Liverpool on Thursday. City were desperate for the return of their Brazilian, who looks like the only irreplaceable part of Guardiola’s engine while Fabinho has steadily become the first name on Jurgen Klopp’s midfield list. Both are great tacklers and can pick a pass with a penchant for scoring the odd goal.
This duel will be physical, but exciting to watch.
|Tackles Won||Interceptions||Passes Completed|
Sterling v Robertson
Raheem Sterling has crested another level with his consistent performances for City since the beginning of the season and he will be keen to show that form against another breakout star in Andrew Robertson, who seems very capable of defending and attacking at the pace.
Aguero v Lovren
Aguero’s form has not been red-hot and there is no better match to regain that spark than against an unpredictable Dejan Lovren and against Liverpool against whom he has scored in his six home league confrontations.
The Croat considers himself as one of the best center-backs in the world – that assertion will be tested against one of the slickest strikers in the business. Though Lovren can count on the efficiency of his partner, Virgil Van Dijk
Meeting Stat: Man City have won only one of their last 11 meetings with Liverpool in all competitions, although that was a 5-0 victory at the Etihad in the Premier League last season.
Pep v Klopp
“Over the course of his career, former Borussia Dortmund coach Klopp has won eight of 15 fixtures against the ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss – more than any other manager in the game.” [Courtesy Liverpool website]
“Our reality is clear. We are seven points down. It is the second round of games and I have a feeling there is a big opportunity for us to reduce the gap. People are asking what we will do if we lose but we are going to try to win the game, be there and have a chance to fight for the Premier League” – Pep Guardiola, Man. City Manager
“We have to be brave, we have to be full of desire, angry again, all that stuff – like in all the other games – but with the knowledge that the opponent is, for me, still the best team in the world.”– Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool Manager
Probable Starting XIs
Man. City: Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Stones, Laporte; Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva, David Silva; Sane; Aguerro, Sterling
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keita; Mane, Firmino, Salah
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