Published: Thu, January 03, 2019
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Three key battles that could decide Manchester City vs. Liverpool

Three key battles that could decide Manchester City vs. Liverpool

The Reds travel to City on Thursday evening in the Premier League (8pm kick off). The likes of John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany and Dejan Lovren provide stiff competition, but the second centre-back spot goes to Aymeric Laporte, who has established himself as City's number one defender this season.

Pep Guardiola's squad stepped out onto the training pitches ready for Thursday's game, including recent absentee Kevin De Bruyne!

"With the position of Liverpool, if we drop points then it is over, it is finished; it would be nearly impossible", said Guardiola after Sunday's 3-1 win at Southampton.

The game will have plenty of sub-plots with people expecting this one to be contradictory of what we witnessed at Anfield in October.

"Our pride has been hurt over the last few weeks but we have everything to play for and it depends on us".

In the end, we all know what happened: an on-field 'this doesn't slip speech, ' a subsequent slip, and an unthinkable capitulation at Crystal Palace, handed the league to Man City.

Klopp has won more than half of his meetings with Guardiola's sides over the years - eight of 15 games. It seems logical that he'll return to 4-3-3 here, with Naby Keita or Jordan Henderson returning alongside Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum, with James Milner expected to miss out through injury.

Questions are being asked of City after they suffered three defeats in the space of four games in December but Guardiola is not entertaining the prospect of another loss. This is the zone where City could cause serious problems, perhaps with their full-backs tucking inside and allowing the two Silvas to push forward and link with the front three.

Even at this stage of the season it appears to be a game the champions can ill afford not to win, with City seven points adrift of Liverpool.

And in terms of Liverpool's forwards, the City boss sees Roberto Firmino as the biggest threat in need of closing down, while Sadio Mane will be targeted as the man who holds onto the ball too long.

With Manchester City heading into the match seven points adrift of Liverpool, the encounter is being seen as one that could potentially decide the title. They always make much effort, run very much, especially their defensive line but also the three midfielders.

"They've won the title". It's the third of January, it's a very important game for both teams and I would use it as motivation for the other team'.

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