The blockbuster match of gameweek 12 of the 2019-20 Premier League is the clash between Liverpool and Manchester City – the first and second-placed team in the league, on Sunday at Anfield.
The Reds are six points clear of City and are yet to lose a game this season, with the only points they dropped being at Manchester United.
City, meanwhile, have lost 2 of their 11 league games so far, and could drop out of the title race if they get beaten at Anfield. The last time these two sides met at Anfield in the league, it ended all square, as the two sides played out a 0-0 draw.
Ahead of the huge clash between the top two in England, let’s take a look at the three key battles in the game between Liverpool and Manchester City.
Liverpool vs Manchester City – 3 Key Battles
Roberto Firmino vs Fernandinho
Manchester City are a team that have a defensive crisis, of sorts. The reigning Premier League champions have missed central defender Aymeric Laporte, which has forced manager Pep Guardiola to play defensive midfielder Fernandinho, at the back.
Guardiola doesn’t seem to trust the centre back pairing of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi which made him turn to Fernandinho. The Brazilian will have a tough test this weekend as he faces off against compatriot Roberto Firmino.
Firmino has been very good for Liverpool this season, causing problems to opposition defences with his movement, pressing, and ingenuity in the final third. The absence of Rodri in midfield to shield the back four will be another worry, as it will give Firmino space to drop into midfield areas.
The game could be decided by this battle, and if City can keep Firmino quiet, they have a good chance of coming away with some something from Anfield.
Kevin de Bruyne vs Georginio Wijnaldum
Kevin de Bruyne is perhaps one of the best midfielders in the Premier League and the Belgian has been influential in the Manchester City midfield once again. The midfielder has racked up 9 assists so far in the league, more than double of any other midfielder in the league.
He will be a huge threat for Liverpool, with his passing from midfield, which could expose the Liverpool backline that has looked off colour in recent games. The Reds haven’t kept a cleansheet since September which will encourage de Bruyne and co.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp could perhaps task midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum with the duty of shadowing de Bruyne and shutting off any balls that are aimed towards the Belgian, and keep him quiet in the game.
Raheem Sterling vs Trent Alexander-Arnold
Raheem Sterling has been in tremendous form for City this season, scoring 14 goals and 5 assists in all competitions. The English winger may get a hostile reception at his former club, but he could silence the boos at Anfield by putting on a good performance for his side.
Sterling will be up against Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold who has also had a good season with his driving runs and crosses.
The young English full-back’s attacking could perhaps force Sterling backwards, towards his own goal, which could nullify his threat; but Sterling could be deadly on the counter-attack as well as Alexander-Arnold is not the most sound defensively.