Thursday night pits two of the Premier League heavyweights together, as Manchester City and Liverpool square off at the Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s side have faltered in recent weeks, after suffering surprise losses to Crystal Palace and Leicester City over the festive period. They did return to winning ways on Sunday when they beat Southampton 3-1 at St Mary’s, and the Spaniard will know how vital it is that City come out on top on Thursday.
For Liverpool, they have a seven-point lead over City and are currently six points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, who are in second place. Jurgen Klopp’s side have looked irresistible in recent weeks, winning their last five on the bounce including a 5-1 trouncing of Arsenal on Saturday.
It really does make for a huge game which both sides will be desperate not to lose, more so City who’ll fall ten points behind if they do. Fans and neutrals alike can expect a thrilling and exciting affair, with the league’s best attacking talent on display.
Unsurprisingly, the Betfair Premier League odds have Liverpool as favourites for the title come May and a draw will do little to alter their price should that be the outcome. City know a win is vital to their chances but at the same time, not an absolute necessity.
As daft as it may sound, a defeat for the Citizens won’t completely quash their title aspirations. Of course it will be a mammoth task to haul themselves back in contention, but if any side in England’s top flight can do it, it’s them.
Liverpool do have a history of blowing the lead in the title race and although that is all in the past, it could prove a niggling reminder should they lose a game or two further down the line. City must make sure they are on the cusp if such events do happen, and they can get the ball rolling with a victory at the Etihad.
The general consensus around the red half of Merseyside is that the title is now theirs to lose, and it’s hard to look past them owing to the form this season. Klopp’s men are still undefeated in the league and they’ll do well to maintain that record come Thursday evening.
Once again, they’ll rely heavily on the attacking trio of Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino to hurt City and have the ever-impressive Virgil van Dijk at the back to stem the Citizens attacks.
Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling will be key to Guardiola’s side as they look to halt The Reds title charge. The latter has had a brilliant season so far and he’ll be desperate to get one over his former side.
Last season, Man City ran out 5-0 winners after Mane was giving his marching orders early on, something of which Klopp will want to re-address prior to the game. Discipline will be imperative for both sides as giving one the advantage could prove costly.
Moving forward, no matter the score, City will just about remain in the title hunt due to their ability to put a run together later down the line, but from Liverpool’s perspective a win will really put them into the ascendency to go on and win their very first Premier League.