Preview: Manchester City vs. Liverpool

Preview: Manchester City vs. Liverpool

Following a two-week long international break, the Premier League returns with Manchester City and Liverpool locking horns at the Etihad Stadium for a mouth-watering contest on Saturday lunchtime.

Last season’s top two are both chasing different targets heading into the latter stages of this campaign, with the Citizens seeking to close the gap to league leaders Arsenal and the Reds battling to make the top four.

Man City embark on an important stage in their season as they endeavour to get their hands on the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, and Pep Guardiola’s side will be keen to pick up from where they left off after putting together a strong run of form before the international break.

The Citizens have won each of their last six games across all competitions, including their last five without reply, with 7-0 and 6-0 drubbings of RB Leipzig and Burnley respectively – in which Erling Braut Haaland scored eight goals – two standout results that helped them progress into the latter stages of the Champions League and FA Cup.

Back-to-back Premier League fixtures against Liverpool and Southampton are up next for Guardiola’s side, who still sit second in the table and are tasked with reducing the eight-point gap to leaders Arsenal – who have played a game more – if they wish to retain their top-flight title.

Victories over Liverpool in all competitions have been hard to come by for Man City in recent seasons and they have already lost two of their three meetings against them this season, although a 3-2 EFL Cup fourth-round home win in December ended a five-game winless run against the Reds.

City’s Premier League home form against Liverpool bodes well ahead of Saturday’s clash, though, as they have only lost one of their last 13 top-flight meetings against the Reds at the Etihad Stadium, suffering a 4-1 defeat in November 2015 under former boss Manuel Pellegrini.

Securing maximum points in the lunchtime kickoff will see the Citizens win four successive Premier League games for the first time this season and put the pressure back on Arsenal when they play host to Leeds United a few hours later.

Almost 12 months on from attempting to win an unprecedented quadruple – before ultimately lifting an EFL Cup and FA Cup double – Liverpool have fallen some distance behind their rivals across all competitions this season and will end the current campaign trophyless.

Before the international break, Jurgen Klopp’s men followed up a famous 7-0 victory over Manchester United with back-to-back 1-0 defeats against Bournemouth and Real Madrid, with the latter confirming their elimination from the Champions League last 16.

Liverpool’s loss at Bournemouth, meanwhile, was their eighth in the Premier League this season, leaving the Reds sixth in the table and five points behind the top four, albeit with two matches in hand on fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

Klopp and co, who were remarkably 30 points better off at this stage of last season, have struggled for consistency away from home throughout the campaign and have picked up only 12 points from 13 Premier League matches on the road, losing seven times and failing to score on six occasions in the process.

Liverpool know what it takes to beat a reigning Premier League champion, though, having done so more times than any other team (23) in the division’s history, including the 1-0 win against Man City at Anfield back in October courtesy of a second-half strike from Mohamed Salah.

Claiming a much-needed victory on Saturday would not only lay down a marker to their top-four rivals, but would also see the Reds complete just their second league double over Man City in the last 17 seasons, with their first taking place in Klopp’s inaugural season at the helm in 2015-16.

Manchester City Premier League form:

Manchester City form (all competitions):

Liverpool Premier League form:

Liverpool form (all competitions):

We say: Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool
As they did against Man United in March and Man City earlier this season, Liverpool need to step up for the big occasion on Saturday and put aside their poor away form if they wish to come away with a positive result to boost their top-four hopes.

Even though there are question marks over Haaland’s fitness, we expect the Citizens to continue their strong run of form with a slender victory on home soil, temporarily closing the gap at the summit before Arsenal face Leeds a few hours later.

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