Sunday 10th November, Anfield, kick off 4:30pm
by John Spillane
Trailing leaders Liverpool by six points after 11 games, second placed City come to Anfield in the biggest game so far of the 2019/20 campaign. There may be another 27 games to play but both sides know that the outcome of this contest could have a significant impact on the destination of the Premier league title.
Last Saturday afternoon Kyle Walker's late winner against Southampton looked to have halved the gap between the top two to three points before Liverpool's even later revival at Villa Park. Ederson's thigh injury at Atalanta, following those to Aymeric Laporte and Rodri, was just the latest set back suffered by City and it means a return to action for Claudio Bravo whose EPL record shows he has conceded 19 goals from the last 40 shots on target. Never the calmest of players, his decision making and concentration can be called into question and his recent lack of game time won't help. David Silva is also likely to miss out and Sergio Aguero has yet to score at Anfield in his career. However City still have the talents of Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling to call upon. Sterling in particular has stepped up this season and is now much more clinical when faced with goal scoring opportunities.
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For Liverpool despite a winning record of 10 out of 11 have found league games less straightforward than last season. Even though they picked up maximum points from matches against Tottenham (h) and Aston Villa (a) both required them to come from behind. You could say that it shows a never say die, "hands on the trophy" belief but they are displaying signs of increased vulnerability. The loss of Joel Matip has seen the return of Dejan Lovren. It would seem in recent weeks that the desire to play with a higher back line is causing problems and has resulted in them conceding more goals. However it has also allowed full backs Trent Alexander Arnold and Andy Robertson to become even more involved in the play which has added to their attacking capabilities.
In midfield Fabinho, after a quiet first year, is showing just why he was so highly rated when brought in from Monaco and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's return from injury has added more to the attack. Sadio Mane's game seems to have stepped up a level and in recent weeks he has been the stand out performer in a talented front three.
Given the current state of affairs both managers would probably settle for a share of the spoils. Last October City adopted a cautious approach. Their full backs sat back keeping the game tight and but for a late penalty miss by Riyad Mahrez they would have come away with their first win at Anfield since 2003. Revved up by the vociferous home crowd and Liverpool would normally come out from the kick off and take the game to their opponents in the early stages, but Sunday due to the six point lead, could see a different approach.
Liverpool have won their last 12 home league games and it could be unlucky 13 for City.
Suggested bet : Liverpool to win (8/5 at bet365)
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