Manchester City’s post-World Cup fixtures get underway on Thursday as they encounter bitter rivals Liverpool in a mouth-watering fourth-round Carabao Cup tie.
Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Braut Haaland were on the scoresheet as Man City eased past La Liga strugglers Girona 2-0 in their only mid-season friendly to set themselves up nicely for this showdown.
Pep Guardiola’s men headed into the mid-season break off the back of an underwhelming 2-1 home defeat to Brentford, falling five points adrift of Premier League pacesetters Arsenal.
However, the Cityzens were ruthless in the previous round, as Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez scored beyond half-time to hand them a comfortable 2-0 victory over Chelsea.
If they are to avoid exiting the World Cup before the quarter-finals twice in a row for the first time since a run of five between 2001/02 and 2006/07, Man City will have to overcome reigning holders Liverpool.
Despite succumbing to a woeful 3-1 defeat to Lyon in their opening exhibition match this winter, the Reds bounced back immediately by thumping AC Milan 4-1 last time out.
Jurgen Klopp’s lads had hit their stride on the stroke of the World Cup break, registering five consecutive triumphs across all competitions, including a penalty shootout win over Derby County in the last round.
But a path to redemption is still long for Liverpool, who, after recording only six wins in the first 14 Premier League rounds (D4, L4), must haul back a seven-point deficit on fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Man City failed to get past this stage last season as West Ham United crashed them out, with their H2H record against Liverpool in the competition suggesting another early exit could be on the cards.
Indeed, the Cityzens have failed to beat the Anfield outfit in six of their seven League Cup encounters overall (D3, L3), with their solitary success coming in the 1969/70 third round.
By contrast, Guardiola’s men have only lost one of their last seven home meetings with the Reds in domestic competitions (W3, D3), though it was an action-packed 3-2 defeat in last season’s FA Cup semi-finals.
Liverpool’s only previous League Cup match against Man City as defending champions yielded an overwhelming 4-0 victory back in 1995, adding further confidence to Klopp’s camp.
The Reds have kept a clean sheet in seven of their eight previous League Cup outings, including the last four, and could make it five in a row for only the second time in the club’s history.
But if Liverpool’s fixtures in recent times have taught us something, they are not a formidable defensive unit, with Virgil van Dijk & co conceding in five of their last six competitive away games.
Manchester City vs Liverpool Potential Line-ups
Manchester City (4-3-3): Stefan Ortega; Rico Lewis, Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake, Sergio Gomez; Cole Palmer, Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne; Riyad Mahrez, Erling Braut Haaland, Jack Grealish.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Caoimhin Kelleher; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Nat Phillips, Kostas Tsimikas; Harvey Elliott, Thiago Alcantara, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Fabio Carvalho.
Manchester City vs Liverpool Prediction
Thursday’s clash at the Etihad Stadium has all the makings of a blockbuster, high-scoring contest.
Since five of the last six competitive matches between Man City and Liverpool have seen at least four goals and both teams scoring, we anticipate a spectacle.
Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool
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