Opposition Watch: Liverpool vs Manchester City

Priyasha Bhowmik
Read Time:7 Minute, 23 Second

It has been a tough 2021 so far, with Liverpool managing to win only 3 out of the 7 games played, with 3 losses and 1 draw.

The upcoming Anfield clash with Manchester City has perhaps not come at a more crucial time.

Liverpool are desperate to get back on track and to catch a high flying City side who has not lost a game of football since losing 2-0 to Spurs on the 21st of November.

Naturally, most of us are sick to our stomachs with nerves. On that matter, we decided that perhaps it would be interesting for our readers to know the thoughts of a Manchester City fan.

Thus, we have gotten Rob Milarvie (@notherview) of Man City Xtra (@City_Xtra) on board with us to answer a few questions and offer a fresh perception on the fixture.

Q. Who do you see having a bigger chance at winning the league- Liverpool or City?

Rob: Even with the points gap and Liverpool’s lengthy injury list, I am still reticent to say they are completely out of the title race, mainly down to the unpredictability of this season and the quality of Liverpool’s squad and coaching staff.

As for us, we have been on an extraordinary run of form. Certain games stand out like Chelsea & West Brom simply due to the exceptional level of quality on show for well over half of hour. But in large part for this season and throughout this run, City’s game management has been stellar.

Q. Manchester City’s results at Anfield have not being the greatest in recent history. How confident are you this time though, with Liverpool looking vulnerable this season?

Rob: More confident than usual, but I don’t want to jinx anything. It’s difficult to predict how City will approach the game because of Liverpool’s overt threat in behind.

Liverpool have struggled against low block sides but as seen against West Ham, with space in transition, players like Salah can be devastating. This year looks like to be the best chance to get three points at Anfield but City fans have thought that for the past in both title winning campaigns.

Q. What are your Top 4 predictions

Rob: Top 4 this season is wide open this season and it is fascinating. I think Liverpool will at least finish second or third but I don’t watch Liverpool that much so I can’t give a true prediction.

I’m a huge Tuchel fan and I suspect Chelsea will go on a really good form now and finish in the top four too.

I’d love to see Leicester or West Ham to make it just for the obscurity (no dig intended) as well as preventing United from finishing in the top four of course.

Q. What were your takes from the last City-Liverpool match at the Etihad? Do you think it’ll be different this time?

Rob: The Etihad match earlier this season was intriguing because that opening 20-minutes was an absolute massacre.

How we were still in the game is beyond me. It was like the roles were reversed from previous fixtures against Liverpool where we usually have a strong opening exchange before a Liverpool player unexpectedly rifles it in from 25 yards.

After that opening though I felt we played really well. The rest of the first half we dominated possession and should have been 2-1 up if De Bruyne converted his penalty.

As the second half progressed, both sides looked contempt with a draw. I assume that will not be the case this weekend as Liverpool desperately needs the three points.

City would be happy with a point but if in the final twenty moments, the game is still in the balance, Pep could go for it if he sees Liverpool lagging.

Q. With Kevin de Bruyne most probably out for the fixture, do you think it may benefit Liverpool in any way and how?

Rob: It will benefit Liverpool because De Bruyne is our best player by quite some distance. Statistically, the Belgian has continued his wonderful form from the past few seasons.

A lack of De Bruyne means we will be less vertical through the middle, but we will be more combative and efficient on the ball, presumably with Bernardo & Rodri along with the creativity coming from Cancelo on the right side and the wide play of Foden and Sterling stretching the pitch.

Q. What lineup for you expect them to come out with?

Rob: Guardiola is always a difficult manager to predict. He sees the game so differently and will pick up on incremental things we may ordinarily miss.

Walker could well start to combat Liverpool’s quick transitions but Cancelo has been in such impervious form of late and his early removal in midweek does point towards him starting on Sunday.

Fernandinho could start as he has played in big away games this season. Rodri, Gundogan & Bernardo will continue their midfield trident. Bernardo is famous in the City fan base for his performances against Liverpool. Foden has to return to the line-up on the left flank, providing our much-needed width.

In short: Ederson; Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Laporte; Rodri, Gundogan, Bernardo; Foden, G, Jesus, Sterling.

Q. Strengths about this seasons City side and weaknesses?

Rob: Firstly, our key strengths would be the continued ability to play through an opponent’s press, our patience & of course our defensive solidity. The partnership of Ruben Dias & John Stones has been immense, and that solidity has reverberated throughout the side.

Weaknesses would be, if the back four line up as I predict, neither four are particularly quick. Walker is our get out of jail free card in defensive transitions.

Laporte, Stones & Dias are all brilliant positionally and communicate well with one another. But they are not particularly fast.

However, our two main weaknesses I would say are our lack of cutting edge in front of goal & our ability at times to not move the ball quick enough

Q. Do you believe that Laporte or Dias are better or had a better impact than Virgil van Dijk?

Rob: Since Laporte’s arrival I would say his standards were to the level of Van Dijk up until his injury back in 2019. However, the Frenchman’s worst games in a City came in the biggest ones, Tottenham second leg. But, I still feel he is our best defender.

Ruben Dias has been mesmeric. He is a very robust, commanding type of defender. . He reads the game incredibly well, dictates the defensive line as well as Kompany did and moves the ball on well.

What separates Van Dijk though is the Dutchman’s unbelievable passing range.

Defensively, I think if Dias continues this form for the rest of the season and in Europe, he is in the category as one of the best on the continent.

Q. Match prediction and scoreline, if possible?

Rob: It’s so difficult to call. Everything I predict I just know the opposite will happen. . The recent history of this fixture has seen a frightening opening twenty minutes or so.

If we can weather the storm similar to how United did in their scoreless draw, we can then establish our dominance on the ball and target the full-backs. Foden against TAA will be a huge battle because Sterling will have another shocker (I hope he doesn’t).

Guardiola has worked with Thiago before and I imagine there will be a plan to cut off his passing lanes & take advantage of his poor tackling.

Sorry to be a bore but I honestly can’t give a scoreline prediction, I don’t want jinx such a big game.

It’s the game I least look forward to along with United because it’s so intense and so much on the line. I just hope we can get something from it, but if you offered me a 0-0 now, I would take it.

LFCTR Verdict

That was all! Evidently, fans from both sides are not really sure of what outcome we will face at the end of Sunday night. And with the games this season being so unpredictable, who knows what will happen? Another 0-0 snooze fest or a 4-3 thriller? We will see!

With Fabinho, Alisson and Mane most probably available for the clash, our chances have immediately increased.

What remains to be a mystery is what centre-back formation Klopp will be fielding. Whatever it will be, a win in this match might just about fill us with confidence again and we might start a title charge.

We conclude by thanking Rob and Man City Xtra for their cooperation and time for making this article possible.

Read more by Priyasha.

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