The continued battle to finish in the top four of the Premier League continues at the Etihad this weekend, as Liverpool make the short trip to play Manchester City. With both teams needing to finish inside the top four to guarantee Champions League football next season, neither team can afford to drop points in what is going to be an exciting end to the Premier League campaign.
Without any European football, Jurgen Klopp has enjoyed plenty of time to prepare his teams ahead of league fixtures this season. While Manchester City were being dumped out of the Champions League by Monaco in mid-week, Klopp had his players on the training pitch, in a bid to produce a much better performance than the one they delivered last weekend, against Burnley.
There are two things immediately in Liverpool’s favour ahead of this game. Firstly, the Reds have enjoyed the upper hand over Manchester City in recent meetings. They have defeated Manchester City in their last four Premier League matches, including a 1-0 win at Anfield earlier this season. Furthermore, Liverpool enjoy nothing more than playing against the big teams and with the live television cameras rolling at the Etihad, you can be sure the players will be eager to put in a great performance.
In terms of the team news, Daniel Sturridge remains absent and Jordan Henderson, along with Roberto Firmino remains a doubt. Dejan Lovren is back in training but this match may be too soon for the Croatian defender. If Firmino fails to make it, there be another start for Belgian forward, Divock Origi.
Klopp has spoken ahead of the game about how his team cannot afford to be passive against Manchester City or risk seeing the ball passed around them for much of the game. If there is one thing to take from the match in Monaco on Wednesday night, it’s the fact City do not like it when teams play aggressively against them. Monaco took the game to Manchester City in the first half and dominated proceedings, only to fall away in the second and allow them back into the match.
Liverpool must be on the front-foot and attack Manchester City but do so in a controlled manner. In the second half against Monaco, Pep Guardiola’s team created plenty of chances, only for their players to squander them. Surely a forward line with the talent of Manchester City’s will not continue to miss good chances and Liverpool must be prepared for periods of the match, especially in the second half, when they are going to be under pressure.
How Liverpool deal with spells of City pressure, will be key to the result of this match. There is no doubt Liverpool can score goals in this game, what remains questionable is the ability to cope when the hosts pour forward. If Liverpool can defend well, there is a good chance they could leave the Etihad with all three points.