Man City vs. Liverpool
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Kick off: 5:30PM
As the race for Champions League football intensifies, two top-four rivals will round off the final Premier League action before the international break on Sunday (today) when Manchester City entertain Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.
Just one place and one point separates the two sides in the table heading into the weekend, but victory either way would be a significant boost for one team and a damaging blow to the other.
City are still well-placed to finish in the top four – they have a game in hand over Liverpool and any slip-up from Tottenham Hotspur against Southampton in an earlier Sunday kickoff would give them the chance to move into second – but Pep Guardiola will be under no illusions that a more competitive title challenge is required next season.
The Citizens will welcome Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium having lost just one of their 19 home games across all competitions this season – including an ongoing run of nine without defeat – while Chelsea are the only visiting team to have won there in almost exactly a year.
However, City have failed to beat any of their fellow current top-four dwellers in the Premier League this season, picking up just one point from a possible 12 heading into a potentially season-defining three-game sequence against Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Meanwhile, it is a sign of the confusing and inconsistent nature of Liverpool’s recent form that many fans will welcome a trip to the Etihad Stadium with a lot more optimism than a visit to a number of grounds in the darker depths of the Premier League.
Liverpool’s record against their top-six rivals has been well documented and, while on its own it is not enough for them to keep up with Chelsea’s relentless pace, it has at least allowed them to strengthen their hold on a top-four spot.
The Reds are unbeaten in nine games against fellow top-six opposition this season, amassing 19 points from a possible 27 in that time to establish themselves as clear leaders of that particular mini-league.
Indeed, 11 of Liverpool’s last 15 Premier League points have come against their direct Champions League rivals, but defeats to the likes of Swansea City, Hull City and Leicester City – in addition to a draw with Sunderland – in that same time period have left them in the most vulnerable of those top-four places.
Man City Possible XI: Caballero, Sagna, Otamendi, Stones, Kolarov, Toure, Fernandinho, Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Aguero.
Liverpool Possible XI: Mignolet, Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner, Wijnaldum, Can, Lallana, Mane, Firmino, Coutinho.