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Preview: Manchester City vs Liverpool – prediction, team news, line-ups

The Premier League resumes after March’s international break as a blockbuster fixture between Manchester City and Liverpool gets Saturday’s programme underway. 

Pep Guardiola’s men went on a tear before the international window curtailed their momentum, assembling an impressive six-game winning run in all competitions.

Erling Braut Haaland bagged another hat-trick as Man City humbled Championship pacesetters Burnley 6-0 in their FA Cup quarter-final tie last time out to lay the foundation for a potentially historic season.

During their purple patch in March, the reigning Premier League champions reached the Champions League quarter-finals and made sure to stay alive in the domestic title picture.

In stark contrast to Man City’s impeccable form, Liverpool’s woeful season hit a new low when season-long relegation fighters Bournemouth toppled them 1-0 last time out.

To compound their problems, Jurgen Klopp’s team fell to a 1-0 defeat at Real Madrid in the return leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on the eve of the break, dropping the curtain on their European journey. 

As far as the Reds are concerned, the timing of March’s international window couldn’t have been any better, handing them plenty of time to regroup ahead of an uphill task of securing a top-four finish.

Match Preview

Man City return to Premier League action for the first time since a narrow 1-0 win at Crystal Palace on March 11, forced to play catch-up on leaders Arsenal.

Although eight points separate the sides at the start of this matchday, the Cityens have a game in hand, meaning a third consecutive top-flight title for the first time in the club’s history is still on the cards.

But given the Gunners’ imperious domestic form, every game is a ‘must-win’ for Guardiola’s charges from now on if they’re to tighten the noose on Mikel Arteta’s high-flyers.

They’re already off to a good start, having racked up five wins and a draw across their last six league outings, including three triumphs on the spin in the run-up to this encounter.

While it may sound surprising, Man City have failed to win four consecutive Premier League matches in 2022/23, something they’d very much like to achieve this weekend.

Despite running out 3-2 victors in their League Cup showdown last December, the Cityzens have unlikely forgotten a gut-wrenching 1-0 defeat in the reverse fixture at Anfield.

Amends for that underwhelming result will incentivise Guardiola’s side to push the boundaries in search of a ninth successive home win in 2023, as they remain the only Premier League team to boast a flawless home record this calendar year.

This time last year, this encounter would’ve had all the makings of a ‘top-table six-pointer,’ but Liverpool’s fall from grace this season has taken some glitter away from this mouth-watering contest.

Considering the season they’re having, Klopp’s men should consider themselves lucky for commencing this round seven points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur with two games in hand.

Liverpool fans can never be sure which version of Klopp’s side they’d get on a given day, especially after being taken through an emotional rollercoaster in the last two Premier League matches.

When it seemed like the Reds could be on the verge of an epic comeback on the back of a history-defining 7-0 win over arch-rivals Manchester United, 19th-placed Bournemouth brought them back down to earth.

To better understand the volatility of the Merseysiders’ form depending on the playing ground, remember they thrashed the Cherries 9-0 at Anfield at the beginning of the season.

Liverpool have been the epitome of ‘Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde’ this term, picking up a mere 12 points from their 13 Premier League travels, compared to 30 on home turf.

With that in mind, the visitors’ bid to complete their first top-flight double over Man City since 2015/16 looks far-fetched, especially after going winless in 12 of their last 13 league games at the Etihad (D5, L7).

Premier League Form

Manchester City: WWWDW

Liverpool: LWWDW

Team News

According to the Evening Standard, Man City will likely be without the 22-year-old star Phil Foden, who had to undergo emergency surgery for appendicitis during the international break.

It will likely be up to Jack Grealish, whose performances for England last week flattered to deceive, to fill the youngster’s shoes on the left wing, with Riyad Mahrez expected to start on the opposite flank.

However, Haaland’s problem with a groin injury headlines the list of Guardiola’s concerns ahead of this meeting.

During his free-scoring showing against Burnley, the Norway international picked up an injury that sidelined him from his country’s underwhelming European Championship 2024 qualifiers against Spain and Georgia.

Unfortunately for Man City, it’s still uncertain whether Haaland will be ready for Liverpool’s visit, which could open up space for Argentine striker Julian Alvarez.

Like his arch-nemesis, Klopp must deal with several injury blows after Stefan Bajcetic joined long-term absentees Thiago Alcantara and Luis Diaz in the treatment room.

Although the Colombian is back in training after last featuring for Liverpool in October, he’ll unlikely be ready to start.

Underperforming defender Joe Gomez is another doubt, but the Reds have welcomed Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo back to the fold in time to attack Man City at full bore.

Manchester City potential starting line-up:

(4-3-3): Ederson; Nathan Ake, Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Dias, Kyle Walker; Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne; Riyad Mahrez, Jack Grealish, Julian Alvarez. 

Liverpool potential starting line-up:

(4-3-3): Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, Andy Robertson; Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Diogo Jota; Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez. 

We Say: Manchester City 3-1 Liverpool

Haaland’s potential return from injury would change the complexity of this encounter, but even in his absence, Man City should have three points in the bag any day of the week.

With all due respect to Liverpool’s rampant performance against Man Utd, their recurring problems with inconsistent performances, compounded by Mohamed Salah’s dip in form, cannot be overlooked.

Despite going down in the reverse fixture, the Cityzens hold a psychological edge and are in far better shape going into this clash.

But Man City should use United’s fate at Anfield as a reminder not to take their out-of-sorts opposition lightly.

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