Less than a week after Liverpool sent their fans into meltdown by sanctioning Philippe Coutinho’s sale to Barcelona, Jurgen Klopp’s men will face the biggest test of their season this weekend, when they welcome Pep Guardiola’s marauding troops at Anfield. Having not lost a single game this season, Manchester City are strolling their way to the league title but Anfield has never been kind to the Blue half of Manchester.
The visitors have not won at Anfield since 2013 in the domestic league but will go into this game as favourites to take all three points. Though Liverpool will not have Philippe Coutinho to call upon for this game, they will have their new signing Virgil van Dijk available along with Mohamed Salah, who shrugged off an injury scare earlier in the week.
This clash has always been entertaining in the past and this game will not be any different. There are a number of in-game clashes that can decide the outcome and here three such key battles that we should watch out for:
Sergio Aguero vs Virgil van Dijk:
The Argentine scored Manchester City’s winner against Bristol City earlier this week in the League Cup while Van Dijk scored Liverpool’s winner that sent rivals Everton out of the FA Cup last weekend. In what will be the Dutchman’s first start in the domestic league for the Reds, (provided Klopp decides to start him) he will have the toughest task yet, of having to face an in-form, fluid Manchester City attack. Aguero has always loved scoring against Liverpool and if Van Dijk can keep him quiet, Liverpool will be halfway towards taking a result from this game.
Mohamed Salah vs Fabian Delph:
With the former Aston Villa midfielder expected to start at left-back, he will be up against an in-form Mohamed Salah this weekend. The Egyptian international may even push Belgian playmaker Kevin de Bruyne back but the responsibility to keep him quiet will fall on Delph, who has been effective this season. The midfielder has not been tested too much this season but Salah and his pace can destroy City and Delph needs to be at his best to stop this from happening.
Kevin de Bruyne vs Emre Can:
But arguably the biggest test for Liverpool will be to contain Manchester City’s midfield. While David Silva has gone about his work quietly, De Bruyne has been the real instigator in the middle of the park for Guardiola and he needs close attention by the hosts in this tie. He cannot be afforded any space or time on the ball and it will be imperative for Liverpool’s CDM Emre Can to keep him away from danger. Can cannot be complacent, not even for a minute and if he can negate De Bruyne’s threat, Liverpool have a real shot at keeping their long unbeaten record against City intact.