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Manchester City v Liverpool: Who will win latest battle between Guardiola and Klopp? Preview, expected line-ups and prediction

The State of Play

Manchester City and Liverpool have won the last six Premier League titles between them, and there is every reason to believe that streak may extend to a seventh campaign in 2023-24.

Pep Guardiola’s treble winners were always expected to be there or thereabouts as they hunt an unprecedented fourth successive English top-flight title, and old rivals Liverpool may just be their most likely challengers, with the Reds taking 27 points from their first 12 games of the campaign following an extensive midfield rebuild.

With the likes of Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister providing fresh energy behind Liverpool’s effervescent frontline, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds have made an art out of winning without being at their best this season, with their only league defeat coming when they were reduced to nine men – and denied a goal by the most high-profile VAR error of the campaign – at Tottenham in September.

Check out our other Premier League stories here:
Manchester City v Liverpool: Top five games in Pep Guardiola’s rivalry with Jurgen Klopp
Five talking points as the Premier League returns this weekend
Shaw boost for Manchester United

They know a victory at the Etihad Stadium, where they were thrashed 4-1 when the teams last met in April, would represent a major statement of their title intentions. However, City have won their last 23 home games in all competitions and might be something of a wounded animal after Cole Palmer’s stoppage-time penalty cost them two points in a wild 4-4 draw at Chelsea last time out.

Though both teams could have a few selection issues to weigh up as they emerge from the final international break of 2023, clashes between teams managed by Guardiola and Klopp have rarely disappointed. Neutrals will be hoping for more of the same on Saturday.

Team News

City have several fitness concerns to consider ahead of the game. Kevin De Bruyne is a long-term absentee while Mateo Kovacic and John Stones are unlikely to return for this one. Matheus Nunes and Nathan Ake are also doubtful after missing their respective nations’ international fixtures over the last fortnight, but star striker Erling Haaland and goalkeeper Ederson both trained on Thursday and should be fit after suffering their own injury scares.

Liverpool will definitely be without Andy Robertson and Thiago Alcantara, with both players sidelined until the new year. Mac Allister could return after serving a one-match ban as Liverpool beat Brentford 3-0 last time out, while the likes of Ryan Gravenberch, Curtis Jones, Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez should be available after recovering from knocks.

Expected Line-ups

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Akanji, Gvardiol; Rodri, Silva; Foden, Alvarez, Doku; Haaland.

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Szoboszlai, Mac Allister, Gravenberch; Salah, Gakpo, Nunez.

What they Said

Guardiola on City’s rivalry with Liverpool:

“I think we are all friends. Time goes forward, eight years with Liverpool and they’re not the same team as the start. They are similar of course.

“Trent Alexander-Arnold can play inside now but the ideas are similar. Always they’ve been our best rivals. Top club, top team, I’m looking forward to it. Every compliment to Liverpool and Manchester City to still be here.”

Konstantinos Tsimikas on the challenge of going to the Etihad:

“Especially in home games, they are very, very strong, but we are Liverpool. We will go there to play our football, to give absolutely everything and to win the game.

“Anything can happen in this game. I think it’s two of the best teams in the world right now. I think we have to see it like a final, to play our football.

“It’s very important to build the momentum again and start winning football games. I think we are in good shape. We have to play our football, give everything, and after we will see what the result will be.”


When and how to watch

The game kicks off at 12:30 UK time on Saturday, and will be shown on Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Ultra HDR in the UK with coverage beginning at 11:00.

Prediction

Although Liverpool have a 100 per cent record at Anfield this season, they are winless in their last three away league games, drawing at Brighton and Hove Albion and Luton Town since their contentious defeat against Tottenham.

Klopp’s side are sure to cause City problems, particularly in the absence of Stones, but the hosts should have enough about them to continue their fine form in front of their own fans. Expect City to edge an end-to-end encounter featuring plenty of goals.

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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