The Premier League’s first game after the international break is a massive one, for Manchester City host high-fliers Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
The Reds have been going great guns so far, demolishing Arsenal and Hoffenheim (Champions League) to establish themselves as dark horses for the league title.
City on the other hand, haven’t been doing too badly either, as is evident by the fact that they are level on points with Liverpool in the table.
However, the fact that their attack still isn’t up to speed hands the visitors a decisive advantage for this crunch clash.
Terrifying in attack, vulnerable in defence. A familiar theme over the past few years has emerged for Liverpool but signs are promising, despite their failure to land Virgil van Djik, that the Reds will be able to shore up their defence.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain arrived on deadline day, but with wantaway midfielder Philippe Coutinho ‘fit’ again, there is an intense completion for the three midfield spots.
For captain Jordan Henderson is arguably the only confirmed starter and Jurgen Klopp has a welcome selection dilemma on his hands.
Their attack triumvirate of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah needs no introduction and will look to continue their goalscoring form against a susceptible City defence.
Their defence, Dejan Lovren in particular, will hope City manager Pep Guardiola keeps Sergio Aguero on the bench for the Argentine has an impressive track record against them.
City, however, still posses plenty of top talents and Liverpool’s creaky defence will have their task cut out for them on Saturday.
Talking Corner: Of course – all good, all good. Nothing else to say, actually, so he’s back and we had a really good conversation, so good-Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Coutinho (www.liverpoolfc.com)
Injury concerns: Philippe Coutinho (back), Adam Lallana (hamstring), Nathaniel Clyne (back) and Adam Bogdan (knee)
Suspension Alert: None
Pep Guardiola isn’t a fan of Sergio Aguero and with Gabriel Jesus looking promising as City’s sole forward, the Argentine hit-man may have to get accustomed to the bench.
Raheem Sterling’s absence, however, will be tricky to overcome and in his absence, Leroy Sane could get the nod.
Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva have been pulling the strings for City in midfield but as is the case with Liverpool, their defence is the weak link.
Left-back Benjamin Mendy was impressive on his debut against Bournemouth and while his crosses could wreak havoc, it is the Sky Blues’ central defenders that are a cause for concern.
John Stones was relegated to the bench for the Bournemouth game but whether Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany can form a steely central defensive partnership.
Good news comes in the form of Kyle Walker’s return from suspension and City suddenly have an added dimension when attacking with Walker on one wing and Mendy on the other.
Talking Corner: Liverpool at home… it’s a huge game. I’m excited and really looking forward to play my first home match-Manchester City left-back Benjamin Mendy (www.mancity.com)
Injury concerns: Fabian Delph (leg) and Ilkay Gundogan (knee)
Suspension Alert: Raheem Sterling
Super Stat: Liverpool are unbeaten in their last five Premier League outings against City, having won four and drawn one!