After profiting in Liverpool's win over Arsenal last week and recent Premier League tips, George Pitts looks ahead to Thursday's big clash at the Etihad.
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Man City v Liverpool (2000 GMT kick-off, Sky Sports Premier League)
We may have only just passed the halfway mark in the 2018/19 Premier League season, but Thursday's match will go some way to telling us where the title is going to end up.
Pep Guardiola's City are currently seven points behind Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, and a 10-point gap at this stage of the season would represent a significant blow to the reigning champions. As well as being a considerable gap to bridge at the best of times, it would hand Liverpool a mental edge which has proved so important over the years. Conversely, should City win then Liverpool's wide leap would suddenly appear narrow.
Tottenham are second and still in the running, but yet to be taken quite so seriously despite the consistency of their performances under Mauricio Pochettino in recent seasons. Rightly or wrongly, Thursday's match will be considered by many to be a title showdown.
Liverpool made a good start to a testing week by hitting five against Arsenal and they will travel to the Etihad hoping to avoid defeat to continue their unbeaten season and put them firmly in the driving seat at the top.
Guardiola's side have won just one of their last four in all competitions, leaving them playing catch up, and the mind games have already started between the two managers.
According to reports, former Bayern and Barca boss Guardiola even has a six-point plan in place to stop the Reds that goes as follows:
- Alisson Becker: Pressing the Liverpool goalkeeper when he has the ball at his feet
- Ederson Moraes: Encouraging the City shot-stopper Ederson to go long more often
- Offside trap: Playing with a high defensive line
- Set pieces: Improving quality of crosses and aiming for Aymeric Laporte
- Danilo left-back: Playing Brazilian on the left-hand side, instead of Oleksandr Zinchenko, and targeting Trent Alexander-Arnold as a potential weakness
- Attack attack attack: Continue to go forward, even if they are leading
It was 0-0 in the reverse fixture earlier this season - with the help of a Riyad Mahrez missed penalty - but it is difficult to see the same happening here despite there being even more at stake at this stage of the campaign.
Follow the action on Thursday evening with Sporting Life's live Manchester City v Liverpool blog, with in-play updates, betting tips, imagery and much more.
Score prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool (Sky Bet odds: 8/1)
A tough one to call, but the feeling is City know the importance of this clash and will throw all they have at it, enough to win. The Reds have improved defensively this season, but goals are still expected and the hosts can thrash out a performance and against a side which has proved to be their kryptonite in recent meetings. A City win, of course, would be good news for the neutrals with the title race opening up again with Liverpool, Spurs and City all in the running.
Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane 1+ shots on target each at 5/2
With preference to avoid the results market, there is real value in the shots betting and this particular option caught the eye with odds above 2/1. The two Liverpool forwards were on target in the victory over Arsenal and given that chances are expected for both teams, a shot on target each for Firmino and Mane is not much to ask. Four of Firmino's five shots against Arsenal were on target, so confidence will be high after his hat-trick, while both of Mane's two attempts in the same game were on target.
Sergio Aguero and Mohamed Salah 2+ shots on target each at 5/1
With similar reasons as above, the price for these two looks excellent considering the two forwards should lead the line for their team. Aguero's record against Liverpool at the Etihad speaks for itself - scoring in all six of his home league appearances against the Merseysiders - while Salah has a tendency to shoot when he gets sight of goal and averages over three shots per game, so at these odds it is worth a small play.
Sporting Life Price Boost: Both teams to score in the second half - was 7/4, NOW 9/4 - click here for exclusive price only available through this link
Sporting Life RequestABet: Over 1.5 goals, 4+ corners each team, Salah and Aguero 2+ shots on target each at 12/1
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- Manchester City have won just one of their last 11 meetings with Liverpool in all competitions (D3 L7), although that was a 5-0 thrashing at the Etihad in the Premier League last season.
- Liverpool have only won one of their last nine league visits to the Etihad Stadium (D3 L5), winning 4-1 in Jurgen Klopp’s first away game against the Citizens since taking over the Reds. They have conceded 20 goals in those nine away games (2.2 per game).
- Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has lost more matches against Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp (seven) than he has against anyone else in his managerial career, although only two of those defeats have come in home games (P6 W2 D2 L2).
- February 2016 was the last time Manchester City lost consecutive home Premier League games, losing to Leicester and Spurs; manager Pep Guardiola has never lost consecutive home league games as a manager.
- Man City have won their first Premier League match of the calendar year in 11 of the last 12 years – losing the other in 2012 away at Sunderland.
- Liverpool have won only five of their last 17 matches in all competitions in January (D5 L7), with the Reds losing nine of Jurgen Klopp’s 24 matches during the month (W8 D7).
- At the end of the year, Liverpool topped the Premier League table by seven points – no team has ever failed to win the English top-flight title with such a lead coming into the new year before
- Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero has scored in all six of his home league appearances against Liverpool (six goals), the best 100% rate of home games scored in by any player against any opponent in Premier League history.
- Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in five goals in his last four games against Manchester City in all competitions (three goals, two assists).
- With his hat-trick against Arsenal last time out, Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino became the highest scoring Brazilian player in Premier League history (43 goals). He’s been involved in six goals in his seven Premier League games against Man City (3 goals, 3 assists).
Click the image below for all the latest January transfer news and gossip...
Odds correct as of 1500 GMT on 02/01/19