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Clash of the Titans Liverpool vs Manchester City

The Premier League has been defined by the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester City over the past five years. The two teams have faced each other in intense matches, with both teams having exceptional managers. After a setback last season, Liverpool and Manchester City are facing each other again in a match that could potentially determine who wins the Premier League this year. However, it’s worth noting that Arsenal is also in the running for the title. They will be hosting Brentford on Saturday, and if they win, they could potentially leapfrog over Liverpool and Manchester City in the standings. A single point separates the top three teams in the league, making it a true three-horse race.

Still, another chapter in this iconic rivalry will be written when Man City travel to Anfield in what has now come to be recognised as the best the Premier League has to offer.

Jurgen Klopp will be hoping to dent the increasingly ominous-looking title challenge of Pep Guardiola, while the latter will be determined to put a dampener on what is becoming a Klopp farewell tour as Liverpool players play some of the best football of their lives.

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WHEN AND WHERE?

Date: Sunday, 10th March 2024.
Time: 15.45 HRS GMT
Venue: Anfield, Liverpool

MATCH OFFICIALS 

Referee: Michael Oliver.
Assistant referees: Stuart Burt, Dan Cook.
Fourth official: David Coote.
Video Assistant Referee: Stuart Attwell.
Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Nick Hopton.

TEAM NEWS

Jurgen Klopp took a big risk by running almost a full-strength side in the midweek Europa League game away to Sparta Prague. It paid off though, as the Red ran riot in a 5-1 victory, effectively ending that tie as a contest.

Furthermore, there were encouraging signs, as Darwin Nunez continued his goalscoring form with a brace and most importantly, talisman Mohamed Salah was reintroduced to the fray with a 15-minute cameo.

Salah looked lively in his time on the pitch and is a surefire bet to start against City. Cody Gakpo should make way for him as Luis Diaz also scored against Prague. Dominik Szoboszlai could start in place of Harvey Elliott after he scored off the bench. He provides a bit more quality on the ball while keeping Elliott’s relentless pressing.

Virgil Can Dijk and Conor Bradley both received rest from a starting duty against Prague and only came on late to warm up for the City game so they should come in place of Joe Gomez and Jarrell Quansah.

Unlike Liverpool, who are slowly recovering from an injury crisis, City have an embarrassment of riches. They fielded an almost full-strength XI against Copenhagen in the UCL fixture midweek and came through without any worries. Jeremy Doku was taken off after some muscular discomfort so he could be on the bench. Jack Grealish remains the only absentee due to a groin issue.

The likes of Kyle Walker, Kevin de Bruyne, Phil Foden, and Bernardo Silva rested against Copenhagen which makes it a certainty that they will start here.

MATCH ANALYSIS

This is perhaps the single-most analysed fixture in recent Premier League history. Yet, a new dimension is added to it in every iteration. This year, it’s the intangible dimension of how a roaring Anfield will push Liverpool and their departing manager to create an unforgettable atmosphere.

City have started their usual late-season charge to the title buoyed by the return of their creator-in-chief, Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian is forming a threatening partnership with Erling Haaland which would be keeping Klopp awake in the lead-up to this fixture.

The tactical story of this game has always been this- City like to play with the ball, and Liverpool overwhelm with their press and try to force City into mistakes.

Ruben Dias could be identified as the pressing trigger by Klopp’s men and Darwin Nunez will be tasked with making his life uncomfortable. The returning Mohamed Salah will probably be up against Nathan Ake, a matchup he might fancy based on his dribbling skills and agility.

It would be interesting to see if Guardiola brings out his two-defensive midfielders setup which he used to overwhelm United. However, everyone expected United to sit back in that game so that setup was expected to help City create overloads.

Against Liverpool, he might go back to a traditional four-at-the-back setup with Rodri as the pressure release valve at the base of midfield.

From there, it will be up to the quarter of Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, KdB, and Haaland to manufacture chances by dragging their markers all over the pitch. It will arguably be Haaland’s biggest challenge yet as he comes up against the man-mountain duo of Virgil Van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate.

How Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson fares against Phil Foden will also be an interesting watch, although he should feel better about his chances now that Salah is back, giving City someone to worry about on the other flank at the same time.

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KEY PLAYERS

Phil Foden

Phil Foden cemented his world-class season with a goal against Manchester United in the derby, so expect him to give Wataru Endo and Co. a tough time by springing up in unexpected places. Foden starts on the right from where he can cut in and unleash howitzers in the far corner, just ask Manchester United.

The midfield on the right side of the three in the middle for Liverpool will have a huge role in tracking Foden’s runs and closing him down if he skips past the first and second line of defence.

Liverpool can’t afford to double up on him due to the number of threats this City side possesses but with close marking, following him around the pitch, and a strong tackle or two, they would be looking to shackle the player Guardiola proclaimed the best in the league just a fortnight ago.

Darwin Nunez

“The agent of Chaos” vs a manager who wants to plan the most obsessive details of a game. Nunez is the wildcard in Liverpool’s ranks whose effort and contribution can never be doubted. He sometimes misses the most simple chances and then scores a wondergoal.

However, he is on a good run of scoring right now. Leading the press as City try to play out from the back, his role will be crucial if Liverpool are to succeed in creating high turnovers. He might not get many chances against City, so he will need to be at his best to take the ones that fall to him.

PREDICTED LINEUPS

Liverpool predicted XI vs Manchester City: Kelleher; Bradley, Van Dijk, Konate, Robertson; Elliott, Endo, Szoboszlai; Salah, Diaz, Nunez.

Manchester City predicted XI vs Liverpool: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Akanji, Ake; Rodri, Stones, De Bruyne; Foden, Silva, Haaland.

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