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Jurgen Klopp

Manchester City vs Liverpool – the biggest game of the season

In recent years, Manchester City and Liverpool have taken control in the Premier League. Since the beginning of the 2017/18 campaign, the former have accumulated 438 league points, while the latter have racked up 412 – the next most in that table is Manchester United with 338.

And this year, the same pair are embroiled in a tense title race. Man City lead the way, but Liverpool are breathing down their necks following ten wins in a row.

On Sunday, they meet for what could be a decisive game in the title race. The reverse fixture was one of the games of the season, with both sides playing out a cracking 2-2 draw at Anfield.

But it’s not just the league that they have to focus on. Liverpool are still in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple, while the Cityzens remain in the Champions League and FA Cup.

All things considered, we’re expecting this game to be a classic.

Manchester City

Their season so far

Not long ago, it looked like Pep Guardiola’s men had another title wrapped up. A 1-0 home win over Chelsea in January took them 13 points clear at the top of the league, and 14 points ahead of Sunday’s opponents.

However, they have dropped points in three of their last eight matches. In usual circumstances, this wouldn’t be the end of the world, but when you’re up against a side on a ten-match winning streak, this could prove costly.

As things stand, the balance is just about in Man City’s favour. With eight games remaining, they are one point above the Reds. But there is no margin for error.

Best results

Chelsea 0-1 Man City – Back in the early stages of the season, many expected Chelsea to be one of the main contenders for the title. After five games each, the Blues sat three points ahead of the Cityzens, with the visitors dropping points against Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton.

But City laid down a marker early on with an impressive victory at Stamford Bridge. They were dominant throughout the afternoon, and claimed the three points thanks to Gabriel Jesus’ second-half strike.

Man City 7-0 Leeds United – Every season, Man City dish out a few thumpings. In December, Leeds United were the unfortunate side on the end of their biggest victory.

Phil Foden set the pace early on, and Jack Grealish and Kevin De Bruyne added to the scoreline in the first half. After the break, De Bruyne got his second, while Riyad Mahrez, John Stones, and Nathan Ake all got in on the act. 7(seven)-0.

Arsenal 1-2 Man City – In the reverse fixture, Man City demolished the Gunners with a 5-0 win. This time around, it was a much tougher test.

Arsenal looked dominant in the first half, and took the lead through Bukayo Saka. Meanwhile, the away side struggled to create anything of note.

But they came out in the second half looking far more lively, and got themselves an equaliser after Bernardo Silva had his shirt pulled by Granit Xhaka. Riyad Mahrez stuck the penalty away.

Despite going down to ten men following Gabriel Magalhaes’ red card, Arsenal continued to make things difficult for Man City. The game looked set for a draw, until Rodri struck in the depths of injury time to snatch all three points.

It was a really demanding match up against an in-form and confident side. And yet, City still managed to emerge victorious. That’s what the best teams do.

Man City 4-1 Manchester United – The Manchester derby is always one of the biggest games of the Premier League calendar. The red half have history on their side, but the blue half have dominated their rivals in recent years.

In the early stages, it seemed as if we were set up for a classic. Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring, but Jadon Sancho bent one home to equalise. De Bruyne netted again a few minutes later, putting his side ahead going into half time.

In the second half, Man Utd couldn’t have made things much easier for the hosts. They barely got a touch of the ball, and struggled to get out of their own half. Once Riyad Mahrez volleyed in to make it 3-1, the game was effectively over.

Late on, Mahrez bagged his second and City’s fourth, completing the derby day humiliation for the Red Devils.

Worst results

Man City 0-2 Crystal Palace – Crystal Palace have proven to be a tough nut to crack for the Cityzens this season. In fact, they are the only side that they haven’t scored against.

The first of their two meetings came at the Etihad Stadium, and the Eagles pulled off a shock win. Wilfried Zaha put them in front in just the sixth minute, and Aymeric Laporte was sent off shortly before half time.

City pressed for an equaliser, and had an effort from Gabriel Jesus ruled out by VAR. But they were unable to level the scores, and succumbed to defeat when Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher fired in on the counter-attack.

Southampton 1-1 Man City – After the defeat to Crystal Palace, Guardiola’s men sparked into life and went on a 12-game winning streak. That run ended with a trip to St. Mary’s.

Kyle Walker-Peters scored the opener for Southampton, finding the far corner with a beautiful finish with the outside of his right boot. Their advantage lasted just under an hour, as Aymeric Laporte headed home from Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick.

Man City were unable to find a winner, having to settle for their second draw of the season against the Saints. A draw at St. Mary’s is hardly the end of the world, but they will have been disappointed to see their winning run come to a close.

Man City 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur – Fun fact: out of every side that Man City have played twice this season, they have either done the double over them or not beaten them at all. This statistic is a slightly worrying omen ahead of the weekend’s game.

Perhaps their most damaging result of the season came in February at home to Tottenham Hotspur. Despite dominating the match statistically, they suffered their first league loss in four months. And it was mainly down to a player they almost signed.

Harry Kane was at the heart of everything for Spurs going forward. Shortly after the game kicked off, his fantastic pass found Heung-min Son, who rolled across for Dejan Kulusevski to score his first goal in English football. This lead lasted for around 30 minutes, with Ilkay Gundogan hitting the equaliser.

In the second half, Kane got himself on the scoresheet. Son was again the provider, crossing for the England captain to finish into the roof of the net.

With the full-time whistle approaching, it seemed as if City had salvaged a point when Cristian Romero was punished by VAR for a handball. Riyad Mahrez stepped up and smacked his penalty into the top corner.

But this STILL wasn’t the end of the drama. In the 95th minute, Kulusevski’s cross found the head of Kane, and he planted his header into the bottom corner.

Best players

Joao Cancelo – It’s been a while since Man City had a top-class option at left-back. They have finally plugged that gap, with Portugal international Joao Cancelo switching sides.

The former Juventus man has been on top of his game this season, contributing plenty going forward. He has scored three in all competitions and added a further eight assists.

Kevin De Bruyne – Having won back-to-back PFA Player of the Year awards, Belgian superstar Kevin De Bruyne could become the first player to ever claim the prize on three occasions. The midfielder has once again been outstanding for the table-toppers.

His recent form in particular will be a concern for Liverpool. In his last 18 matches in all competitions, the 30-year-old has scored ten and assisted seven, drawing a blank in just five of those outings.

Riyad Mahrez – Competition for places in Man City’s frontline is intense. Mahrez is battling with the likes of Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus, and Jack Grealish for minutes out on the wings.

But this season, the Algerian has managed to outshine his teammates with some of his best stuff. He is City’s top scorer in all competitions, bagging 22 – a personal best.

Run in

This weekend’s game is by far Man City’s toughest remaining league match. In fact, it is their final remaining fixture against one of the ‘big six’.

However, that’s not to say that their other matches will be easy. They still have trips to Molineux and the London Stadium, facing two teams chasing European spots.

They will travel to Leeds United at the end of the month, and face Brighton and Hove Albion, Watford, Newcastle United, and Aston Villa at home. You’d fancy them to win all these games, but there is sure to be some difficulty along the way.

Liverpool

Their season so far

Liverpool began the season in fine form, going unbeaten until November. However, a wobble during the Christmas period saw them lose pace with Man City. With key players departing for the Africa Cup of Nations, many expected them to fall away from the title race.

But that hasn’t been the case. Since the 2-2 draw with Chelsea at the start of 2022, they have won every single league game, scoring 25 and conceding just two from ten outings. This form has taken them within a point of the top of the table.

Form is in their favour, and it is still in their hands. However, only a flawless run from now until the end of the season will guarantee their 20th league title.

Best results

Norwich City 0-3 Liverpool – Going into the new season, there were some doubts over the Reds’ title credentials. They had dipped in the previous campaign, largely down to the injury to Virgil van Dijk. The Dutchman had recovered, but there were still question marks over whether Liverpool could reach the heights of the 2019/20 season.

They helped dispel any early worries with a convincing opening day victory against newly-promoted Norwich City. Diogo Jota got the club’s first goal of the season, and Roberto Firmino doubled their advantage after the break. Mohamed Salah was the provider for the first two, then added a third himself late on.

Manchester United 0-5 Liverpool – There are fewer greater feelings in football than beating your biggest rivals. And Liverpool didn’t just beat Man Utd – they SLAUGHTERED them.

Naby Keita set the tone, slotting in from Salah’s pass, and Jota made it two with a finish from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross. Salah then got in on the act, scoring two more before half time and wrapping up his hat-trick in the 50th minute.

Everton 1-4 Liverpool – Just over a month on from their conquest at Old Trafford, Jurgen Klopp’s men had more joy against a rival. They kicked off December with a fine display at Goodison Park.

Jordan Henderson struck a beauty in the ninth minute from Andy Robertson’s cut-back, and then the captain played Salah through for his 18th of the season. And number 19 came in the second half, as the Egyptian capitalised on a mistake by Seamus Coleman before rolling into the far corner.

In the closing stages, a near-perfect evening was complete when Jota made it 4-1. The winger collected Robertson’s pass, expertly turned past Allan, and fired into the roof of the net.

Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool – As mentioned earlier, Liverpool have won their last ten league games. The most impressive result in that run came up against an in-form Arsenal side, who had accumulated five victories on the spin.

And the win came courtesy of two players who LOVE playing against the Gunners. Jota – who had already scored three times against the north Londoners earlier in the season – broke the deadlock, and Roberto Firmino squeezed one in from Robertson’s cross to seal the three points.

Worst results

Brentford 3-3 Liverpool – They may have swept Norwich aside on the opening day, but Liverpool’s trip to Brentford proved that not all newly-promoted sides are a walkover.

The home side got themselves in front in the 27th minute when Ethan Pinnock turned in at the back post. But this lead was short-lived, as Diogo Jota headed into the bottom corner from Jordan Henderson’s cross.

When Mohamed Salah scored after the break, Liverpool seemed well on their way to another three points. But the Bees didn’t give up, and grabbed an equaliser through Vitaly Janelt.

The Reds once again took the lead, this time through Curtis Jones’ wonder strike. And again, they were unable to hold on, allowing Yoane Wissa to level in the final ten minutes.

A draw away at Brentford isn’t the end of the world – they’ve proven to be a tough opponent for a number of sides. However, they will have been disappointed, having taken the lead twice.

West Ham United 3-2 Liverpool – With six wins and four draws from their opening ten matches, Liverpool were the last unbeaten side in the Premier League. This run ended with a trip to the London Stadium.

It was a nightmare afternoon for Alisson, whose own goal put West Ham United ahead in the fourth minute. The visitors levelled before half time, thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s fine free kick.

The Hammers began the second half well, and restored their lead in the 67th minute through Pablo Fornals. And seven minutes later, Kurt Zouma headed in from Jarrod Bowen’s corner to make it 3-1.

Divock Origi came off the bench to pull one back, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Liverpool from falling to their first defeat of the season.

Leicester City 1-0 Liverpool – Jurgen Klopp’s side have only lost two league games all season. The other one came away to Leicester City.

The result was partially down to some poor finishing, and partially down to a stellar display from Kasper Schmeichel in goal. The Dane saved Salah’s first half penalty, with the forward heading the rebound onto the crossbar.

More chances went begging for Liverpool as the game continued. Salah was again denied by Schmeichel, and Sadio Mane fired over the bar when through on goal.

Then the winner came. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall fed Ademola Lookman, and the former Everton man fired in at the near post.

There was still time for more Schmeichel heroics late on, as he stopped Virgil van Dijk’s low effort. The Foxes held out for the victory, while the defeat left Liverpool in third place.

Best players

Trent Alexander-Arnold – It seems crazy to say this about a 23-year-old, but Trent Alexander-Arnold is already one of the greatest right-backs to ever play in the Premier League. His delivery, long passing and creativity put him way up there into that conversation.

Numbers-wise, there isn’t a single defender in the division that can touch him. The Englishman leads the race for the Playmaker Award with 11 assists to go with his two goals. Additionally, he has helped his side to 16 clean sheets.

Mohamed Salah – Despite a recent dip in form, Mohamed Salah is still by far the bookies’ favourite for the PFA Player of the Year award.

The former Chelsea winger has once again been sensational for the Reds. He is six goals clear in the Golden Boot race, and is joint-second in the assists charts with ten. He needs just four more to achieve his second-best ever goalscoring season in all competitions.

Diogo Jota – For a few years, Liverpool’s front three seemed almost unbreakable. Salah lined up alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane to form one of the most feared attacking line-ups in Europe.

Diogo Jota has come in and arguably improved upon it. Starring in the centre-forward role, the Portuguese has scored 14 league goals and a further six in all competitions, beating his previous record of 18 for the season.

Run in

Much like Man City, this is also Liverpool’s toughest remaining game. On the balance of things, the Reds’ run in looks a bit tougher.

They follow up the weekend’s fixture with back-to-back home games against Man Utd and Everton. They also host Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield in April, and finish with at Anfield with a visit from Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Meanwhile, they have to travel to St. James’ Park, Villa Park, and St. Mary’s for tough-looking clashes with mid-table Premier League opposition. Wins will be demanded from these fixtures, which sets us up for a fascinating conclusion to the season.

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