I make no apologies for labelling Manchester City’s trip to Anfield as the top-billing game of the weekend, and certainly both teams appeared to have one eye on this showdown in midweek, with Liverpool beating Genk by an unconvincing 2-1 scoreline, while Manchester City failed to capitalise on their first-half dominance at Atalanta, and were probably happy to go home with a 1-1 draw following Claudio Bravo’s late dismissal.
- Game: Liverpool v Manchester City
- Venue: Anfield
- Kick-off: Sunday 10th November @ 4.30pm
In a strange weekend for the top two teams, Liverpool and City each experienced similar scenarios and outcomes from their games against lower opposition last Saturday, with both having to dig deep to score two late goals in order to overcome a half-time deficit.
Liverpool left it extremely late to come back after going behind early on at Aston Villa. They did not manage to breach their hosts’ defence until the 87th minute, and then had to wait until the fourth minute of stoppage time for Sadio Mane’s deft header to break the hearts of Villa’s players and fans.
That victory sustained Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the season (W10, D1) and extended their run of unbeaten Premier League games to 28 (W23, D5) since they last tasted defeat at Manchester City in their opening game of 2019.
City’s home game against a battling Southampton side took an almost identical path, as they chased the game for the best part of an hour before cancelling out the Saints’ early opener. It was not until four minutes from the end that Kyle Walker popped up with a dramatic winner.
At that stage, Liverpool were still losing, and City looked like they might be one Anfield victory away from claiming top spot. But now they need that win just to stay in touch, and Pep Guardiola must still be rueing his team’s unexpected defeats at the hands of Norwich City (who have won just one point since) and Wolves (who have drawn all three subsequent game 1-1).
Sports Betting Odds
Unsurprisingly the betting market is wide open as bookmakers are undecided about the possible outcomes.
The prices on a win for either side are virtually identical: Liverpool 17/10 is widely available, while City’s odds are marginally tighter at 8/5. The draw is 13/5.
Team Facts & Analysis
Liverpool continue to steamroller through all opposition, with their 2-0 Champions League defeat at Napoli remaining their only setback all season. That successful start has come under serious threat in recent weeks, with decisive goals in the last twenty minutes required to decide no less than seven of their last eight games, including four in the last five minutes or later.
That battling persistence has been vital in light of the fact that for all Liverpool’s success going forward, they have kept three clean sheets in seventeen competitive outings, and they were at Burnley and Sheffield United in the league and at MK Dons in the League Cup. They have conceded a goal in each of their five home league wins — but nonetheless they have now gone 45 home league games without defeat (W35, D10), winning all of their last twelve and scoring at least twice in all of them.
Liverpool continue to be a major force in their opponents’ half, which has helped paper over the crack of any shortcomings in their own. Failing to keep a clean sheet in nine of their eleven league games must have something to do with Alisson’s early-season injury, while injury to Joel Matip means that Jurgen Klopp has had to swap and change his defensive partners to sit alongside Virgil van Dijk.
It continues to be in the final third that Liverpool’s high-temp high-press game plan comes into its own, with their forward trio of Salah (5), Mane (6) and Firmino (3) combining for 14 of Liverpool’s 25 league goals, and indeed at least one of those three has scored in all but two of Liverpool’s last twenty EPL outings.
Putting those two shock league defeats to one side, Manchester City have looked imperious in winning their other twelve games since August, scoring 43 goals and conceding just five along the way. On their league travels, it seems ironic that their only two defeats in fifteen away trips since Boxing Day last year have come at the unlikely hands of Newcastle and Norwich, while only Bournemouth and Burnley have succeeded in limiting City to 1-0 score lines.
The corresponding fixture last season was hyped up as a potential goalfest — only to end in a goalless stalemate. But in truth that game produced two of only six clean sheets that these teams have managed in their last 21 encounters, and fans will be hoping for something more akin to the previous season’s 4-3 thriller.
City have not won at Anfield since 2003, since when sixteen league visits have produced just five drawn points and eleven defeats. Indeed, before last season’s win at the Etihad, City had won just one of their last twelve competitive meetings with the Reds, and that was 2017’s 5-0 drubbing which was heavily influenced by Mane’s first-half dismissal.
Pep Guardiola might have just cause for using the absence of a couple of key players to excuse his team’s occasional slips. Aymeric Laporte’s early-season injury has led to an unsettled back-line with only Kyle Walker and Nicolas Otamendi of nine defenders making more than five starts, but his main worry will be the precautionary half-time withdrawal of goalkeeper Ederson on Wednesday, especially in light of Claudio Bravo’s rush-of-blood red card ten minutes from time.
However, even with an unsettled defence and without long-term absentee, Leroy Sane, City continue to be rampant going forward, with the Sterling/Aguero pairing failing to find the net in just two of City’s outings this season, Sterling netting 18 times for club and country, while Sergio Aguero has bagged 13 goals in 16 outings, including nine in the league.