Liverpool are in desperate need of an Anfield victory. The Reds are currently enduring a four-match winless run at their iconic home ground. It’s timely, then, that our next opponents come in the form of league leaders Manchester City.
Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola enjoyed a share of the spoils in the reverse fixture back in November at the Etihad Stadium. Mohamed Salah and Gabriel Jesus were on the scoresheet during the 1-1 stalemate.
For this one, Liverpool are back at Anfield, the scene of back-to-back defeats to the likes of Burnley and Brighton.
Meanwhile, City make the trip to their north-west rivals off the back of a nine-match winning run. In that period, they have conceded just one goal.
Fabinho, Sadio Mane and Alisson Becker were all back in training on Friday afternoon, having missed the midweek defeat to Brighton.
So, too, were deadline day signings Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies – both of whom are eligible for selection against City.
The former, in particular, appears to have settled in very well to life on Merseyside, with Kabak earning plenty of plaudits from supporters following released training footage from the club.
Kabak, 20, could be in-line for his Liverpool debut at the weekend, then, after he was granted international clearance on Friday.
With Fabinho back in the equation, too, we are hoping that Klopp will pair Kabak with the returning Brazilian international against City.
The combination of Kabak and Fabinho in defence will finally enable Jordan Henderson to return to his preferred role in midfield.
The 30-year-old’s absence in his natural position has been stark in recent weeks with Liverpool lacking their usual aggression and intensity in midfield.
A midfield triumvirate of Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and Thiago Alcantara is certainly a daunting proposition for any opposition, even City.
Mane, too, is surely a given to return to the attacking picture in place of Xherdan Shaqiri. The Senegalese ace has been a huge miss in recent fixtures against West Ham and Brighton, after all, and also has a favourable record against City.
In fact, Mane has scored against the Citizens at Anfield in three of the four previous fixtures.
His return, then, would ensure the reinstatement of Klopp’s preferred pedigreed front-three, who were able to wreak havoc in their previous outing against Tottenham Hotspur.
Ederson Moraes will continue to operate in between the sticks for the upcoming away encounter. Having shipped zero goals over the last six league matches, the Brazilian shot-stopper will be hoping to add to his tally of clean sheets this week.
John Stones will form the centre-half partnership with Ruben Dias at the heart of City’s backline.
Kyle Walker will replace Aymeric Laporte at the right-back position whereas Joao Cancelo will fill in on the other flank, as the left-back. With Sadio Mane (if fit) and Mohammed Salah up next, the full-backs will be expected to stay compact and keep their shape defensively.
Rodri will continue to feature in the holding midfield position and could be assigned more of a defensive role to shield the away side’s ‘back-four’.
Ilkay Gundogan will slot into the central midfield role whereas Phil Foden is expected to start in the attacking midfield position. The former has been in blistering form lately, scoring four goals in his last six league games and he’ll be hoping to repeat more of the same on Sunday.
Bernardo Silva will have to settle for a place on the bench but might come on in the latter stages of the game if called upon.
Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez will take up the wide positions, playing on the left and right-wing respectively.
Gabriel Jesus will lead the line for the visitors against Liverpool. Having found the back of the net in each of his last two matches, the Brazilian international will be heading into the match in high spirit, hoping to capitalise on Liverpool’s woes at the back.
Veteran striker Sergio Aguero is likely to miss out as he is recovering from the after-effects of COVID-19.
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