Saturday’s early kick-off welcomes back the Premier League in style as table-topping Manchester City and second-placed Liverpool go head-to-head at the Etihad Stadium.
Going into November’s international break, Pep Guardiola entered uncharted territory, as for the first time in his 882nd game in charge, his side scored and conceded four in the same match.
Man City youth academy graduate Cole Palmer put away a late penalty to salvage a 4-4 draw for Chelsea, knocking his former side down from a five-match winning streak in all competitions.
Erling Braut Haaland, who was on the scoresheet twice at Stamford Bridge, is at risk of missing out on Saturday’s blockbuster after pulling out of the Norway camp due to an ankle injury earlier this week.
His potential absence may dent the Cityzens’ bid to post their 24th consecutive victory at the Etihad and claim an outright record for most successive home wins by an English top-flight club, set by Sunderland in 1892.
If anyone can take advantage of Man City’s injury crisis, it’s Liverpool, who, despite going winless on their last seven league visits here (D3, L4), are enjoying a purple patch.
Jurgen Klopp’s side took advantage of the Sky Blues’ slip-up in west London to reduce the gap to a single point with a thumping 3-0 home triumph against Brentford.
Mohamed Salah, targeted by pitch invaders during Egypt’s 2-0 win over Sierra Leone, netted a brace in that match to join Haaland as one of two Premier League stars to have hit double digits in the league this term.
With ten goals, he is only two below the Norwegian scoring machine and could use the Man City talisman’s injury setback to boost his case in the Golden Boot race.
Man City humbled Liverpool 4-1 in this corresponding fixture in April – their ninth straight home victory in their treble-chasing venture – holding Klopp winless in every league visit to the Etihad since 2015.
Since a narrow 1-0 win over Newcastle United in their opening Premier League home outing of 2023/24, Guardiola’s men have scored 2+ goals in their subsequent six matches at the Etihad.
But while five of those six triumphs yielded multiple-goal margins, it’s worth noting that just one of their four league wins in this sequence was against a side from the upper half of the table.
If Haaland recovers in time, there’s a decent chance Saturday could be a historic day in the Premier League. He’s one goal shy of hitting a 50-goal milestone in the competition despite only making 47 appearances.
Former Manchester United striker Andy Cole remains the fastest player to tally a half-century of goals in the English top flight. It took him 65 games to smash that barrier.
Except for a controversial 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur in late September, Liverpool have gone unbeaten in their 11 remaining league fixtures this season (W8, D3).
However, they’ve heavily relied on their superb form at Anfield. Of the Reds’ eight Premier League wins, six have arrived on home soil, with Klopp’s team only winning twice on six top-flight travels (D3, L1).
After coming from behind twice in a row to dispatch Wolverhampton Wanderers and Newcastle, the Merseyside heavyweights have gone three consecutive away league games without a win (D2, L1).
Darwin Nunez’s notorious profligacy in front of goal backfired on Liverpool’s most recent league trip, as they needed Luis Diaz’s last-gasp heroics to hold newcomers Luton Town to a 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road.
Although the ex-Benfica forward continues to miss sitters in the Premier League, he’s channelling his ‘inner Haaland’ for Uruguay, having netted three times in two 2026 World Cup qualifying wins in November.
Haaland isn’t the only questionable player in the Man City camp.
First-choice goalkeeper Ederson withdrew from the Brazil camp after picking up a minor injury against Chelsea. He’s facing a race against time to make the squad this weekend.
The same goes for Nathan Ake, Matheus Nunes and Mateo Kovacic, with the trio dealing with fitness problems that could render them unavailable for Saturday’s blockbuster.
Guardiola will be without long-term absentee Kevin De Bruyne and injury-prone John Stones, who suffered a muscle injury before the international break.
As for Liverpool, Stefan Bajcetic and Thiago Alcantara are still in the treatment room, as is Andy Robertson, who’s recovering from shoulder surgery.
Klopp should welcome Ryan Gravanberch back to the fold after the Dutchman sat out the Reds’ win over Brentford.
Back from brief spells on the sidelines, Alexis Mac Allister, Curtis Jones and Ibrahima Konate will also be in contention for the starting XI.
Manchester City potential starting line-up:
(3-2-4-1): Stefan Ortega; Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Josko Gvardiol; Rodri, Manuel Akanji; Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish, Jeremy Doku; Julian Alvarez.
Liverpool potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Alisson Becker; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk, Kostas Tsimikas; Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Cody Gakpo; Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz.
We Say: Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool
Liverpool’s outstanding run of losing just once in their last 23 Premier League games (W15, D7) can’t hold a candle to Man City’s formidable home form but still promises a spectacle.
Klopp will bank on Haaland’s fitness issue as he bids to win a league match at the Etihad since his first visit to this venue eight years ago and deny Guardiola a historic feat in the process.
But with or without the Norwegian, the hosts are still a force to be reckoned with and have more than enough firepower to penetrate the Reds’ error-prone backline.
On that basis, we anticipate a high-scoring draw.
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