The two giants of the Premier League collide at Anfield on Sunday, and our in-depth preview has everything you need to know ahead of Liverpool v Man City.
Liverpool v Manchester City
- 1630 GMT on Sky Sports Premier League
They've been the dominant duo in the Premier League over the last couple of years, but it's Liverpool who have their noses in front ahead of the first meeting of the season between Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.
What's at stake?
It’s the big one of the weekend, the big one of the season in fact and, although we’re only in early November many have already tagged this as a title decider as the big cats in the Premier League jungle scrap it out.
That’s fanciful talk, as although a Liverpool win takes them nine points clear, City clawed back a similar deficit last season. A City win means it’s game well and truly on with just a three-point gap to stew over during the international break.
Guardiola has endured a tough time at Anfield over the last few years, and don't think for a second that he doesn't know it. He has injury problems ahead of this one but will be desperate to put a tent in Liverpool's relentless pursuit of the Premier League title.
A nine-point gap is by no means insurmountable at this early stage of proceedings, but you just get the impression that this year the Reds have a new focus and it's going to take another big effort from City to stop them.
Team news & selection - Ederson misses out
You can't underestimate the influence a world-class goalkeeper can have a team - just ask Klopp who splashed out for Alisson Becker and has been rewarded with a huge improvement defensively. Ederson is arguably better than Alisson, at least in terms of distribution and overall is a wonderful keeper.
Claudio Bravo did little to calm the nerves when he replaced Ederson in midweek and was duly sent off after a rash burst out of his box and throwing him back into the action in the white-hot Anfield atmosphere seems like a recipe for disaster. We all know about City's defensive worries as John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho remain his centre back options.
For Liverpool, the two main selection issues come at centre back, where Klopp must pick between Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren, and in midfield where he has the usual choice of options. Fabinho is one of the first names on the sheet, captain Jordan Henderson should start but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is pushing for inclusion ahead of Georginio Wijnaldum.
The tactics - Will Pep play it safe again?
"Sometimes when the opponents are as good as Liverpool you have to adapt," said Guardiola in his pre-match press conference. He adapted last season when he played it a bit more conservatively to stem the red tide at Anfield, which meant for a slightly dull game.
It was effective though, and should have given Man City three points as Riyad Mahrez blazed over a late penalty. Guardiola sounds like he could do the same again this season - bit what will Klopp do?
What are the big match odds?
Liverpool slight favourites but there's not much between the two, and the draw may not be a bad shout considering it was 0-0 last season and pep Guardiola's injury problems mean a point wouldn't be the worst result in the world for him right now.
The Reds are so strong at home though that a defeat is almost unthinkable, while goals should be on the menu this time around as neither side defends as well as they have done previously.
Sergio Aguero has gone seven league visits to Anfield without a goal, that run surely can't go on much longer given the form he's in, while Raheem Sterling has struggled to find his best form going back to his former club, but he's looked like a goal scoring machine at times this term and must have a great chance of finding the net again.
Sadio Mane is imperious form, and after Guardiola's jibes at him wouldn't it be fitting if he answered with a goal. Roberto Firmino is sometimes the forgotten man in the Liverpool front three, but he's scored four in eight games against City and always causes them problems. He's the best price of the front three to net so may well be worth a chance.
Our regular pundits from Sky Sports Soccer Saturday have given us their take on the big showdown, with Charlie Nicholas, Phil Thompson and Matt Le Tissier discussing all aspects of the game.
Who will win, who will score, who is better out of Klopp and Guardiola? Those and other big questions are all answered.
What they said
Klopp will attack from wide: “That's part of our game, it’s part of our plan - but it is not the only plan. Modern football is like this, that you have to be really strong on the wings, however you do it, because the goal is in the centre of the pitch and the area around the goal is the most crowded area, so you have to find a way to go through – that’s in behind, you pass it on the wings or you try to find little spaces between their lines. That's how football is."
Klopp on City: "If you want to climb you have to take top spot where City is. For us, it is obvious the improvements the boys have made. We have to play our best game, everyone."
Klopp on the recent games: "Last three games with City, a pen pretty late but 0-0, 2-1 at the Etihad, 11mm or whatever the ball wasn't in and last one was a draw in Community Shield. We lost on pens. Good moments, we had the best part in the second half."
On a rivalry with Klopp: “When I came here I never thought about who my rival is and who I’d have to face on the pitch or in the press conference, this was never one concern in my career as a manager, never.
"When I arrived here there was enough concern to build the team, make them play good and compete for titles, in season one it was Conte, then in the next we grew as a team, and Liverpool too. Maybe next season maybe there will be another. What I was concerned with was my team getting better."
"To see his team, you realise what he did in Dortmund he’s done it here, you analyse the impact as he took over a team that wasn’t a real contender to win the Premier League and he did it. In three or four years he built something marvellous to watch."
On whether a defeat would end their title hopes: “I don’t know, what happens if we win?
“I think in November it is never over. That is my point - I know what is going to happen if we lose, people will say it’s over but there are a lot of games to play and my experience in sport is that you have to fight until the end.
"(Whether) we are going to win the Champions League or not, your favourite question to me, I don’t have the answer. I’m sorry.
“I don’t know if it will be over – it will be more difficult as one season they’ve lost one game and this season they are unbeaten. So you have to imagine they are not going to lose too many games but the season is long a lot of games and situations that can happen.”
On Claudio Bravo: “Why should I not be confident with my players on my team, why would I have doubts because a player who does not play regularly does not play?
"I’d not want to be a player who was doubted by his manager, I’ve seen him in training and I know how fired and how good he is – we are not going to lose because of Claudio.
"The red card against Atalanta was because we lose the ball in a dangerous position.
"You have to respect this guy. He’s played at an incredible level, he won the Copa America, other cups, respect that guy, he is an incredible top top keeper."
Last time out - the game that decided the title?
Liverpool arrived at the Etihad with a seven-point lead in January, and a win would surely put the title race to bed - as even Pep Guardiola would admit afterwards. However, in an incident-packed game it was City who came out on top to cut the gap to four points - and the rest, as they say, is history.
It is probably the best atmosphere ever at the Etihad as the City fans, and player, were bang up for the fight, and they swarmed all over Liverpool in the early stages, possibly taking the Reds a little by surprise.
The huge moments went City's way, as John Stones produced a miraculous goal line clearance, stopping a goal by 1.1cm according to the television replay. There was also a Vincent Kompany challenge on Mohamded Salah that could have easily been a red car - almost certainly in this era of VAR.
Sergio Aguero struck, as he so often does at home against Liverpool, and although the Reds deservedly levelled, Leroy Sane struck the winner in a breathless game that blew the title race wide open, and swung the momentum back in City's favour.
Liverpool v Man City betting preview
Can Manchester City end Liverpool's long unbeaten tun at fortress Anfield? Will either side really be happy with a draw? We've got our Sunday Premier League betting preview, headlined on the big game on Merseyside.
Pep Guardiola's side usually score away from home, while Liverpool's defence hasn't been so solid this season - with both teams scoring in their last eight contests, is that the best way to go in this?
We've got a 3/1 best bet in this one, along with some pointers for those backing goal scorers.
WATCH: Guardiola's Anfield misery
For a manager like Guardiola, he'll hate the fact he hasn't managed to win at Anfield yet as Man City boss. He'll also hate the fact his team have suffered a couple of bad defeats on Merseyside.
Liverpool v Man City match stats
Man City haven't won at Anfield for 16 years, Liverpool have only lost one game in the league in the last 50.
Claudio Bravo doesn't have the best stats as he prepares to return to the City goal at Anfield.
For more on how the league leaders usually get on versus the champions, plus Sergio Aguero's Anfield record and much much more, go to our full stat pack below.
REWIND: Classic encounters
There have been some great battles and plenty of goals in this fixture over the last decade. Here, the PA news agency looks at six classic matches between the two sides.
- Man City 2-3 Liverpool, October 2008
Dirk Kuyt was the hero as Liverpool came back from two goals down to bear 10-man City 3-2. First-half goals from Stephen Ireland and Javier Garrido seemed to put City in cruise control before Fernando Torres halved the deficit and Pablo Zabaleta was sent off for a tackle on Xabi Alonso. Torres headed an equaliser before Kuyt slotted home at the far post in the final moments. Liverpool lost only twice that season under Rafael Benitez but finished four points behind champions Manchester United as winning a first Premier League title proved elusive.
- Liverpool 3-2 Man City, April 2014
Liverpool looked as if they had struck a decisive blow in the title race on an extraordinary afternoon at Anfield. Brendan Rodgers' side took command as Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel scored inside the opening 26 minutes. But City struck twice within five-second half minutes through David Silva and a Glen Johnson own goal. A rare mistake from Vincent Kompany allowed Philippe Coutinho to score a 78th-minute winner, with Jordan Henderson sent off in the final seconds. At the end of the game, Reds captain Steven Gerrard gave his team-mates a rousing team talk on the pitch - but Liverpool slipped up in the final straight and City took the title by two points.
- Man City 1-1 Liverpool (City won 3-1 on pens), February 2016
Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero was the shoot-out hero as City claimed the Wembley spoils in the League Cup final. A cagey contest broke into life four minutes after the restart when Fernandinho fired home from a tight angle. Liverpool levelled seven minutes from time as Adam Lallana struck the woodwork and Coutinho swept home the rebound. Extra time failed to produce any further goals, and it was first blood to Liverpool in the shoot-out as Emre Can scored and Fernandinho missed City's first spot-kick. But Caballero saved from Lucas, Coutinho and Lallana to get the City party started, with Yaya Toure converting the deciding penalty.
- Liverpool 4-3 Man City, January 2018
This was possibly the best game of the lot as Liverpool ended City's unbeaten Premier League record in thrilling fashion. Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain's ninth-minute drive put Liverpool ahead, but Leroy Sane beat Loris Karius at his near post just before half-time. The Reds then scored three times in an eight-minute spell to go 4-1 up. Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Salah were on target, the latter pouncing on an Ederson error to chip the City goalkeeper. Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan netted in the final six minutes, but Liverpool held on. But City had the final word again, romping to the title as Liverpool finished fourth.
- Man City 1-2 Liverpool, April 2018
Liverpool reached their first Champions League semi-final for 10 years after coming from behind at the Etihad Stadium to secure an emphatic 5-1 aggregate win. Liverpool held a healthy first-leg after Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mane had scored in a 3-0 Anfield win. But Merseyside nerves were jangling after Raheem Sterling set up Gabriel Jesus inside two minutes. The tension got to City manager Pep Guardiola, who was sent off for a pitchside outburst after Sane's effort was incorrectly ruled out for offside. Salah chipped home in the second half after a powerful run by Mane and Firmino completed the formalities 13 minutes from time.
- Man City 2-1 Liverpool, January 2019
Liverpool's unbeaten 20-game start to the start came to an end as their lead at the top was cut to four points. City knew nothing other than victory was necessary to keep their title ambitions alive. But they almost fell behind when Mane hit a post and John Stones scrambled the ball off the line after his attempted clearance struck goalkeeper Ederson. Data showed the ball had failed to cross by just 1.12 centimetres. Sergio Aguero broke the deadlock close to half-time before Jurgen Klopp's side equalised after 64 minutes through Mane. But Sane fired home the winner eight minutes later, inflicting Liverpool's only league defeat of the season and sparking a title surge that saw City home by just one point.
Four main talking points ahead of Anfield clash
Here the PA news agency looks at some of the issues surrounding the game.
- Bravo to zero?
Pep Guardiola has confirmed Claudio Bravo will start his first league match for 18 months after Ederson was injured in the Champions League in midweek. The 36-year-old has endured a chequered past in between the sticks for City and went through a period during his last spell in the team when he was seemingly conceding from every shot (21 from 40 at one point). He is bound to be tested by Liverpool's famed front three and despite Guardiola's assertions the Chile international has a high-profile error in him.
- City resources tested to the limit
City may have the most expensively-assembled squad in Premier League history but even they are feeling the effects of injuries. There are doubts over David Silva and Rodri, with Ederson, Oleksandar Zinchenko, Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte all sidelined. Midfielder Fernandinho seems a lock in the centre of defence so Guardiola has to choose between John Stones or Nicolas Otamendi, neither of which he has much confidence in in the past.
- Anfield expects
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp would absolutely have taken a six-point lead over City in mid-November, after the two sides had met, if you had offered it to him pre-season so a draw would not be a bad thing for the hosts. However, having come so close last season, losing out by a point - effectively the outcome from their two meetings making the difference - there is a sense they need to take full advantage this time around. City have won just once at Anfield in the last 28 league visits so home fans will be expecting not only that run to be extended but also their advantage at the top.
- Time for Salah to show up?
The Egypt international has eight goals in 16 appearances this season but has appeared far from the devastating form of his previous two campaigns, when he finished as the league's leading scorer. He has not been playing particularly well, and may be still troubled by an ankle injury sustained against Leicester a month ago, and seemed to be trying too hard in the midweek Champions League victory over Genk. He has already scored against Arsenal and Tottenham this season so has a sense of the occasion and the visit of City may just be the spark he needs.
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