City Faces Tough Anfield Challenge
Last updated: February 3, 2021 by Leon Marshal
|Last Meeting:||Man City 1 – 1 Liverpool|
The two best teams in the Premier League in recent years go head-to-head at Anfield. Manchester City are the form team, winning eight in a row. Liverpool are back to winning ways and could cut City’s lead at the top of the table to just one point with a win here.
The title race is slowly thinning out, just four weeks ago, seven points separated the top ten. Manchester City now tops the table with a nine-point advantage against fifth-placed West Ham with a game in hand. Liverpool needs a result out of this game to reduce the four-point advantage that City has against them. Lose, and the gap increases to seven and if City wins their game in hand, ten points. Even at this stage of the season, that would be a lot of ground to make up.
Luckily for Liverpool, they appear to have recovered after their ‘blip’, back-to-back wins against Tottenham, and West Ham ended a five-game winless streak for the champions.
The intensity of this season’s schedule is unforgiving offering just two or three days to prepare for the next challenge. The biggest weakness for Jürgen Klopp has been in their defence with serious injuries to all their senior centre backs; Virgin Van Djik, Joel Matip and Joe Gomes, and Fabinho sidelined. Such is the injury crisis at the back; captain Jordan Henderson was deployed as a make-shift centre back.
To ease the pressure, Liverpool signed two players during the January window. Ben Davies was bought from Preston in a surprise £2m deal. The 25-year-old centre-back has been at Preston since the age of 11 and has made over 250 appearances for the club. Ozan Kabak also joined Liverpool; the 20-year-old defender is on loan from Schalke 04 until the end of the season.
Mohammed Salah is the Premier League’s top scorer on fifteen goals and has been the best player in Liverpool’s front three. He became the first player, after Ian Rush to score more than twenty goals in all competitions in four consecutive seasons. The Egyptian’s double against the Hammers was the first time he scored in the league since the 7 – 0 thumping of Crystal Palace seven games ago, although he did score a brace in Liverpool’s 3-2 defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup. Sadio Mane is also slowly finding form; he gave a man-of-the-match performance in the 3-1 win away at Tottenham. Scoring a goal and creating an assist in that game.
One Liverpool player we haven’t yet seen the best of is Thiago Alcantara. Despite running the show in the 0-0 league draw with Manchester United, the 29-year-old’s inclusion in the team coincided with Liverpool’s poor run. Red’s legend John Barnes said he believed that Thiago’s build-up play is a little too slow for Liverpool and that Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah simply aren’t used to it. We have a feeling that it will only be a matter of time before we see it click with the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich player.
Manchester City is back at the Premier League’s helm after a slow start. They have made steady progress and have managed to overcome an uncharacteristic patch of inconsistent form which saw them win only 50% of their first ten games (lost two and three draws). With all the focus being on whether Chelsea, Tottenham, or Manchester United could win the league, City came in on the rails and slipped into first place. And while other teams around them are suffering surprise defeats, City are unbeaten in twelve with just two draws spoiling an otherwise perfect record. They are starting to once again look like the juggernaut that took 198 points in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
A lot of the credit for this run lies with the defence. The last team to score against City in the league was Chelsea on the 3rd of January, and that was just a consolation in the 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge. They are currently on a run of twelve wins in all competitions keeping nine clean sheets in this run. The most expensive defence in the world is living up to its hype keeping five consecutive shut outs in the league and twelve in the last thirteen games and a total of twenty in all competitions. The new year has already been historical; the nine games won in January in all competitions is the most they have won in a single month in the club’s history and is unlikely ever to be beaten.
While Liverpool has had defensive woes, it is up-front that City has struggled. Club record scorer Sergio Agüero, who has 257 goals in 417 games in his career, has been out all season with an injury. Raheem Sterling has played well in some games, scoring and providing an assist in their last game, a 5-0 win against West Brom but has only managed six goals in the league. Gabriel Jesus has also been hot and cold; the 23-year-old has also suffered from injuries, scoring just three times in twelve appearances, including three as a substitute.
The biggest strength in Pep Guardiola’s side is their ability to pull out a streak of consecutive wins. They also don’t rely on individual brilliance as their greatest strength is that their goals are evenly spread among the team. Ilkay Gündogan is the team’s unsung hero, scoring seven goals from midfield.
A worry for City is the injury to their best performing player this season, Kevin De Bruyne. He has assisted ten goals this season and has scored three goals. A thigh injury has ruled him out for between four and six weeks. Another concern is their run of fixtures. After Liverpool, they have a further five games to play in February including games against Tottenham, Arsenal, West Ham before they face Manchester United at the beginning of March.
All central defenders for Liverpool Virgin Van Djik, Joel Matip and Joe Gomes are injured prompting Liverpool to sign Ben Davies from Preston North End.
Liverpool have won their last two games after being winless in five.
The most expensive defence in the world has kept five consecutive shut outs in the league (twelve in the last thirteen games) and a total of twenty in all competitions.
City are without Kevin De Bruyne for 4-6 weeks. De Bruyne has been involved in thirteen league goals.
|Liverpool (4-3-3):||Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Henderson, Robertson, Thiago, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Firmino, Mane|
|Subs:||Adrian, Kelleher, Henderson, Williams, Jones, Elliott, Keita, Minnamino, Milner, Origi|
|Injured:||Van Djik, Fabinho, Jota, Gomez, Matip, Keita|
|Man City (3-2-4-1):||Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, Gundogan, Fernandinho, Torres, Sterling, Jesus|
|Subs:||Steffen, Stones, Ake, Zinchenko, B. Silva, Foden, Garcia, Mendy, Bernabe, Mahrez|
|Injured:||Aguero, Ake, De Bruyne|
So Far This Season
|Liverpool This Season||City This Season|
|11 (4)||Wins (away)||13 (5)|
|7 – 0 v Crystal Palace||Biggest Win||5 – 0 v Burnley|
|7 (5)||Draws (away)||5 (3)|
|2 – 7 v Aston Villa||Biggest Defeat||2 – 5 v Leicester City|
|Salah (13)||Top Goal Scorer||Gundogan (7)|
|Y22, R0||Discipline||Y22, R0|
|4||Failures to Score||2|
|62%||Both Teams to Score Games||35%|
|57%||Over 2.5 Goals||30%|
|43%||Under 2.5 Goals||70%|
- Liverpool and Man City have played forty-seven professional games, The Reds have twenty direct wins against Man City’s ten wins, and seventeen draws between them.
- Salah is top of the scoring charts with fifteen goals while Ikay Gundogan is Man City’s top scorer this season with seven goals.
- There have been three wins and two draws in the last five in this fixture; all wins were by the side playing at home.
- Two of the best sides in the Premier League that have set the standards in the last three seasons go head to head in what promises to be an end to end encounter with real attacking flair.
Head to Head
|Last 5 meetings between the two sides|
|Date||Competition||Game Result||First Goal-scorer|
|08/11/2020||EPL||Man City 1 – 1 Liverpool||Salah 13’|
|02/07/2020||EPL||Man City 4 – 0 Liverpool||De Bruyne 25’|
|10/11/2019||EPL||Liverpool 3 – 1 Man City||Fabinho 6′|
|04/08/2019||EPL||Liverpool 1 – 1 Man City||Sterling 12’|
|03/01/2019||EPL||Man City 2 – 1 Liverpool||Aguero 40’|
Conclusion & Betting Tips
Liverpool have got back to winning ways after a drop in form and could make a huge statement by beating the team that looks the most likely to take their Premier League crown. Win this game; they are a point behind. But lose, and they could be as many as ten behind if City wins their game in hand.
City knows the pressure is on Liverpool and this could benefit City who will fancy their chances on the counter. Winning becomes a habit, even when not playing well and City are on an incredible run of twelve straight wins in all competitions. Win this, and we might look back on this game as the day that City placed a finger on the trophy.
While it is tempting to go for a draw in this one with so much at stake, we fancy City to nick this one. Liverpool have lost their proud home record at Anfield after their defeat by Burnley, City to win 2-1 @ 9/1 with bet365 is our prediction.