After a laborious international break, the Premier League is back and Saturday kicks-off with a massive grudge-match at the Etihad. Both teams are blessed with an abundance of attacking talent but have leaky defence that could be easily exposed – let’s take a look at how this match is going to unfold!
Mané and Salah vs. Mendy and Walker: City’s newly bought fullbacks haven’t really faced a stern test yet and they’re coming up against two speedy forwards on Saturday – it’s sink or swim time for them. If they lose out to the Reds’ attack, City are unlikely to get much more than a single point out of this game.
Henderson and Çan vs. Fernandinho and De Bruyne: Guardiola has chosen to leave his midfield light this season and it could come back to haunt him, as Liverpool boast some hard workers that aren’t afraid to fly in with heavy tackles; which Arsenal learned the hard way when Liverpool’s dominant midfield controlled the game in their 4-0 win.
Gabriel Jesus vs. Matip and Klavan/Lovren: Klopp isn’t known for having the sturdiest defences, with his current centre-back options being the shakiest part of his line up. Worse for them, is that City have a prolific scorer and crafty poacher in Gabriel Jesus who should be able to get the better of Liverpool’s unsure defence.
3 Things to Watch:
- Red Card Lottery: Çan, Henderson and Fernandinho are all boisterous midfielders who often let the occasion get to them – in what is likely to be a heated game someone is likely to overstep their boundaries and catch an early shower.
- Mané Hot Streak to continue: Mané has scored in each of Liverpool’s three opening Premier League games so far and he’s busy tearing through defences with ease at the moment. City’s full-backs are good, but they’ll have their work cut out for them if they’re going to stop the Senegalese forward from getting on the score sheet again.
- High-scoring draw?: With both teams having talented attackers and suspect defences there’s a decent possibility that the points could be shared at the Etihad – a 2-2 or 3-3 draw could conclude what is likely to be an entertaining match.
Liverpool will be high on confidence after they sent Wenger back to school in their 4-0 victory over Arsenal last week, so they’re probably going to walk into this match feeling dominant. On the other side of things, City narrowly scraped a win, so they won’t be overly confident, but they’ve got all the tools in their squad to get the three points. If City want to get out of this with any points, they need to shut down Mané, Firmino and Salah– not an easy task by any stretch. My crystal ball says we’re looking at a shock Manchester City 2-3 Liverpool result with Fernandino getting his marching orders after a few too many heavy challenges!
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