The unpredictable nature of the 2020-21 season so far suggests that this is not exactly the top-two battle we have been used to seeing between these two sides in recent years.
Both Manchester City and Liverpool remain the Premier League title favorites, but certainly not the same volume at the start of the season.
The match on Sunday could prove significant in the chase even at this stage of the campaign. Both Manchester City and Liverpool are coming off a big victory in the Champions League. Manchester City won 3-0 against Olympiakos whereas Liverpool had a fantastic victory over a generally strong Atalanta in the middle of the week and would look to sustain the form.
Liverpool’s win will take them eight points further from the side they usurped last season as a champions-a huge difference to making up for a team as reliable as the Reds. A home victory, on the other hand, will help Man City; they will be two points behind with a game in hand. Not a bad position to be in after having suffered such an uncharacteristically inconsistent start to the season.
However, both teams now seem to be making their strides. Things are tightening up at the back for Man City by Ruben Dias’ entrance, and loosening for Liverpool as they lose both Van Dijk and Fabinho in a space of 2 weeks.
Current Form :
Manchester City Premier League form: WLDWDW
Manchester City form (all competitions): WWDWWW
Liverpool Premier League form: WWLDWW
Liverpool form (all competitions): DWWWWW
The test is, of course, bigger to Liverpool right now as Man City have an impressive record against the defending champions, claiming nine of their last 10 Premier League encounters with the titleholders. That said, they haven’t won any of the last 11 matches they’ve played against Liverpool as the champions.
In midweek, a big challenge against free-scoring Atalanta BC was also predicted, but the Reds made it three wins and three clean sheets from three Champions League games courtesy of Bergamo’s eyebrow-raising 5-0 victory. With a hat-trick, Diogo Jota was the star of the show, while Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both looked really sharp, But it was another clean sheet that could have impressed Klopp the most with Rhys Williams at the back.
Man City will again be without Sergio Aguero, the club-record scorer, who is not supposed to return from his hamstring injury until after the international break while Jesus is in contention. Also, Fernandinho and Benjamin Mendy remain sidelined for the hosts. Guardiola was able to rest several players for this one in midweek who are supposed to return to the starting XI.
Among those likely to return are Rodri, Aymeric Laporte, and Dias, while Joao Cancelo ‘s goal off the bench may be enough to win him a left-back start in the absence of Mendy.
Liverpool, meanwhile, will be missing Thiago Alcantara again as he misses a sixth consecutive match as a result of the knee injury in the Merseyside derby. Van Dijk, Fabinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remain sidelined as well, but after a knock in midweek, Klopp shrugged off slight questions about Jota’s availability.
The summer signing from Wolves was banging on the door and his Champions League hat-trick brought him to six goals in his last four appearances. Joel Matip is ready to return at the back and can come alongside Joe Gomez straight into the band.
Probable Lineups :
Manchester City : Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling
Liverpool : Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Curtis Jones; Salah, Mane; Jot