Can Manchester City End Liverpool’s Unbeaten Run at the Etihad on Thursday?
A few short weeks ago, it seemed as if we were destined to enjoy a dramatic two-horse race in the title race for the remainder of the season. Both Liverpool and Manchester City had enjoyed very solid and unbeaten starts to the season, and all seemed set for the two to battle it out at the top of the table, with a trio of London sides, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea, jockeying for position behind and ready to strike should the top two falter.
However, at the start of December, Manchester City’s unbeaten record came to an end when they were beaten by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, a result which allowed Liverpool to claim top spot in the Premier League, a position they gained thanks to a somewhat fortuitous last-minute victory over Everton.
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Since then though, Liverpool have steamrollered all their opponents, winning all seven matches that they have played in December, while at the same time, Manchester City have faltered, losing successive games over Christmas to Crystal Palace and Leicester City to fall further and further behind Jurgen Klopp’s dominant Liverpool side.
With City currently playing Southampton (and leading 2-1 at the time of writing), that means the gap could be seven points in Thursday’s game, or it could be as much as ten points if City lose at Southampton. In any case, it is a game that Manchester City will feel that they now must win in order to stand any chance of closing the gap on Jurgen Klopp’s team.
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Let’s now take a look at the current form of both teams.
Manchester City’s Recent Form
- V Bournemouth (H) – W 3-1
- V Watford (A) – W 2-1
- V Chelsea (A) – L 0-2
- Champs Lge V Hoffenheim (H) – W 2-1
- V Everton (H) – W 3-1
- Carabao Cup V Leicester City (A) – D 1-1 (W 3-1 on penalties)
- V Crystal Palace (H) – L 2-3
- V Leicester City (A) – L 1-2
- V Southampton (A) – Played as article being written
Played 8 – Won – 4, Drew 1, Lost 3 – Goals Scored – 14, Goals Conceded – 12 (not including Southampton game)
Liverpool’s Recent Form
- V Everton (H) – W 1-0
- V Burnley (A) – W 3-1
- V Bournemouth (A) – W 4-0
- Champs Lge V Napoli (H) – W 1-0
- V Manchester United (H) – W 3-1
- V Wolves (A) – W 2-0
- V Newcastle (H) – W 4-0
- V Arsenal (H) – W 5-1
Played 7 – Won 7, Drew 0, Lost 0 – Goals Scored – 23, Goals Conceded – 3
The stark difference in form between the teams is emphasised by the fact that City have dropped nine points from the last 15 available prior to the Southampton game, while Liverpool have picked up maximum points throughout all of December and furthermore, they have improved their goal difference from being 15 behind City at the start of the month, to now being four better than City (before City’s game with Southampton on Sunday).
Given that the Reds hold such a commanding lead at the top of the table, which was increased still further with the Reds 5-1 win over fifth placed Arsenal, while second placed Tottenham were defeated 3-1 at home by Wolves, this is now a game which any Manchester City fan with an eye on defending their Premier League title, will know that their team must win.
Probable Man City Team
Formation – 4-3-3
I can see Guardiola making a number of changes to the team that faced Southampton at the weekend. I think Sane and Walker will definitely come back into the team to try and add further pace both defensively and offensively for City, while I would also think that John Stones greater pace may see him selected ahead of Vincent Kompany.
- Ederson – Gk
- Walker – Dr
- Zinchenko – Dl
- Stones – Dc
- Laporte – Dc
- Silva – Mc
- Fernandinho – Mc
- Silva – Mc
- Sterling – Amr
- Sane – Aml
- Aguero – Ac
Probable Liverpool Team
I fully expect Jurgen Klopp to field a much weakened side for the FA Cup tie with Wolves on Monday night and as such, I think the German ace will change only his midfield for this game, opting to go for a defensive look to shield his back four. I can see Mane, Firmino and Salah all starting, with the back four unlikely to be changed either, but I am expecting Milner (if fit) and Henderson to come into midfield alongside Wijnaldum for this game. If Milner is not fit, then Fabinho may keep his place in the team.
- Alisson – Gk
- Alexander Arnold – Dr
- Robertson – Dl
- Van Dijk – Dc
- Lovren – Dc
- Henderson – Mc
- Wijnaldum – Mc
- Milner – Mc
- Mane – Aml
- Salah – Amr
- Firmino – Ac
Man City v Liverpool Top Tips
Match Result – Liverpool to win
There’s no doubt about it, Manchester City have been rattled badly over the past month or so and that defeat by Chelsea was the start of their downfall. Defensively they have looked susceptible and while they are still scoring goals, I feel that they are starting to show signs of mental fragility that have just not been evident over the last 18 months.
In contrast, Liverpool have been as solid as a rock in December and confidence is flying high after their stunning 5-1 win over Arsenal. That win was a huge statement to the Premier League and I think Jurgen Klopp will know, a similar win here would be an even greater statement and send a fearsome message to the rest of the country that this Liverpool side is even better than the one that reached the Champions League final last season, by a considerable distance.
I can see City scoring at home, but I think Liverpool are playing so well that they could hit City on the counter and claim what would be a massive win here.
Correct Score – Man City 1-2 Liverpool
In terms of the Correct Score bet I fancy Liverpool to get the job done in style here by hitting City on the counter attack. I can’t see the Reds keeping a clean sheet but I do think a 2-1 win for them is not beyond them at all.