Liverpool do not need fond reminiscences of Manchester Metropolis’s final go to to Anfield. The 4-1 defeat in February left the defending champions 10 factors off the Premier League summit, permitting Pep Guardiola’s facet to grab management within the title race.
This time, it’s Liverpool who’re trying down from the highest – albeit solely by a degree. Jurgen Klopp’s staff are undefeated within the Premier League this season however that document is certain to be examined by a facet who’ve triggered them issues like few others in recent times.
The truth is, Liverpool have solely gained one in every of their final seven video games in opposition to Manchester Metropolis, throughout which there have been 20 objectives scored. This Sunday’s showdown guarantees to be one other thrilling encounter.
From Liverpool’s proper flank to the 2 penalty packing containers, there can be doubtlessly pivotal tactical battles happening everywhere in the pitch.
TAA absent for right-sided duel
Liverpool can be with out Trent Alexander-Arnold after the right-back suffered an adductor damage throughout coaching earlier this week.
It represents a major blow to the staff given his distinctive significance to the way in which wherein they assault.
The 22-year-old has already contributed two assists within the Premier League this season and ranks high amongst all gamers for possibilities created, passes into the opposition field and anticipated assists. No Liverpool participant has made extra passes into the ultimate third.
Alexander-Arnold’s supply, each from open play and dead-ball conditions, is likely one of the facet’s largest weapons and Klopp has configured his method accordingly, guaranteeing Liverpool direct a excessive proportion of their assaults down his flank.
With out him, nevertheless, the Liverpool supervisor might want to establish different methods of supplying Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota with the service they want within the attacking third.
Alexander-Arnold’s attacking qualities have been obvious throughout Liverpool’s final assembly with Metropolis. The truth is, as is so typically the case, many of the hosts’ most harmful moments went by means of him.
On the different finish, although, Metropolis have been in a position to expose his defensive frailties.
Raheem Sterling breezed previous him to win their penalty, which was blazed over by Ilkay Gundogan within the first half, and he did the identical within the build-up to Metropolis’s opener early within the second interval.
In that sense, it might be argued the extra defensively-minded James Milner, though not something like as efficient as Alexander-Arnold going ahead, is a helpful participant to deploy in his absence.
As a result of whereas Liverpool direct the best proportion of their assaults down their proper facet, Metropolis are likely to favour their left, the place record-signing Jack Grealish and the supporting Joao Cancelo have shaped a formidable partnership this season.
Grealish endured a irritating night in opposition to Paris Saint-Germain within the Champions League on Tuesday night however he has been constantly glorious domestically.
Throughout six Premier League appearances thus far, he’s approach out in entrance of his Manchester Metropolis team-mates by way of possibilities created and fouls gained, whereas he has additionally accomplished essentially the most dribbles.
Assuming he retains his place within the facet on Sunday, his talent and unpredictability will severely check Milner. Even when the 35-year-old is ready to maintain him quiet, Cancelo can be lurking too.
The Portugal worldwide is one in every of solely three gamers to have performed each minute for Metropolis within the Premier League thus far this season, together with Ruben Dias and Ederson, and his affect has been immense.
No Metropolis participant has had extra touches, made extra passes into the ultimate third or despatched in additional crosses from open play. Defensively, too, Cancelo has impressed. He ranks high for each tackles and duels gained.
Maybe Salah will have the ability to pin him again and restrict his affect however what is for certain is that Milner will want help in Liverpool’s defensive third. By some means, Sunday’s recreation is more likely to be determined by who wins the battle on Liverpool’s proper.
Guardiola’s false 9 dilemma
Guardiola’s largest choice choice considerations who begins within the false 9 place.
Ferran Torres impressed there within the early weeks of this season, scoring twice in Metropolis’s 5-0 thrashing of Arsenal and incomes reward from Guardiola for his “unimaginable” motion.
However the Spaniard has been curiously absent in latest video games.
There was a aim within the 6-1 win over Wycombe Wanderers within the Carabao Cup however he was an unused substitute in opposition to Southampton and Chelsea and once more in opposition to PSG.
Sterling was favoured within the place in opposition to Southampton and PSG however did not hit the goal with any of his 4 makes an attempt in opposition to Saints and, other than the first-half header which struck the bar, struggled to make an affect in opposition to PSG.
Maybe Phil Foden’s deployment by means of the center in opposition to Chelsea hints at what’s to return on Sunday.
The 21-year-old had few scoring alternatives at Stamford Bridge – in actual fact he didn’t register a single shot on aim – however was excellent in the identical function at Anfield again in February.
Foden’s efficiency that day was arguably his greatest in a Manchester Metropolis shirt, his motion between the strains inflicting Liverpool main issues as he completed the sport with a aim, an help, and the man-of-the-match award.
Guardiola was not solely happy, insisting afterwards the teen didn’t at all times take up the fitting positions within the first half, however there was little question about his significance to the win.
If it isn’t Foden lining up centrally on Sunday, nevertheless, Guardiola has different choices. Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and even Kevin De Bruyne have been used within the function final season, whereas the Metropolis boss might even be tempted to maneuver Gabriel Jesus again into the center.
The most important problem for Liverpool might be dealing with that stage of unpredictability.
Can Metropolis cease Salah?
Liverpool aren’t the one ones going through a stern defensive check, after all. Manchester Metropolis are nicely conscious of what they’re up in opposition to at Anfield and Guardiola could have famous Liverpool’s assault has been essentially the most potent within the Premier League thus far this season.
That is largely all the way down to Salah. The Egypt ahead has began the marketing campaign in explosive kind, solely failing to search out the online in one in every of his eight appearances for Liverpool in all competitions, his complete of 5 objectives within the Premier League making him joint-top scorer.
To additional underline simply how harmful he has been, Salah additionally ranks high for photographs, anticipated objectives and touches within the opposition field. No participant is moving into scoring positions with extra frequency, in different phrases. Salah is on the very high of his recreation.
Salah has been irrepressible in Liverpool’s final three residence wins over Metropolis, within the Champions League and domestically throughout the 2017/18 marketing campaign and extra not too long ago in November 2019, when he scored Liverpool’s second aim in a 3-1 win.
However Guardiola blunted his menace somewhat extra efficiently within the two conferences between Metropolis and Liverpool final season. Salah scored in each video games, however every of these objectives got here from the penalty spot and represented his solely photographs on track.
Within the 1-1 draw on the Etihad Stadium in November, Metropolis restricted him to solely 33 touches of the ball – his second-lowest complete in any Premier League recreation wherein he accomplished 90 minutes final season. In the course of the 4-1 thrashing at Anfield three months later, his contact depend was solely barely increased at 39.
Assuming there aren’t any choice surprises in defence, it’s going to fall to Cancelo and left-sided centre-back Aymeric Laporte to maintain him quiet once more this time round however Alexander-Arnold’s anticipated absence might assist Metropolis too.
The England worldwide has developed a superb understanding with Salah on Liverpool’s proper flank.
This season within the Premier League, he has equipped his team-mate with 48 passes – 10 greater than anybody else.
Others might want to step up in his absence however Metropolis can be cautious Salah will not be Liverpool’s solely supply of hazard. There may be the small matter of retaining Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota at arm’s size too.
It will likely be fascinating to see the way it unfolds.
Premier League preview: Redknapp’s Liverpool vs Man City verdict | Will Arsenal build on derby win? | Leicester’s slow start
Peter Smith is joined by Sky Sports activities pundit Jamie Redknapp, in addition to soccer writers Gerard Model and Simeon Gholam, to stay up for the Premier League weekend…
PART 1 | Jamie Redknapp explains why he thinks Liverpool will edge their large match-up with Man Metropolis at Anfield on Sunday. The Sky Sports activities pundit additionally discusses the rise of Curtis Jones and Metropolis’s menace in assault.
PART 2 | We think about whether or not Arsenal are actually able to construct on their large derby day win over Tottenham after they go to Brighton. And what constitutes success for the Seagulls this season?
PART 3 | There’s loads of reward for Conor Gallagher as we focus on Crystal Palace’s enhancing kind and the Chelsea loanee’s future, earlier than we look at a sluggish begin to the season from Leicester.