On the morning of the third of January this year Liverpool were seven points clear at the top of the premiership table, as their players prepared for a visit to The Etihad. With midnight approaching on the same day a Leroy Sane winner had cut Liverpool’s lead to four points, a result that many saw as the turning point in City eventually pipping a extraordinarily high standard of title race.
Now eleven months later Liverpool find themselves in a similar position, albeit a couple months earlier in the season. After the surreal reality of their ninety seven points not being enough to win their first league title in nearly thirty years last term, yet more European glory for the club seems to have given their terrific first eleven even more confidence. As thus far this season they have only dropped points at Old Trafford, remaining perfect in the league otherwise. Though in truth, they have rode their luck at times and have had to churn results out in recent weeks, yet their form is easily one of potential champions.
And now they host their now fierce rivals Manchester City, this time six points clear at the top of the pile, with another chance to drive a sharpened stake deeper into blue Mancunian hearts. Many in the media have stressed the importance of both sides losing this game, inferring that a point would suit each team just fine. This is certainly true however Liverpool and Man City are not play for a draw type teams. Their managers are winners, pushing their squads to the highest standards week on week. This week being no different. And Liverpool particularly would be wise to stick to this proven mentality later this afternoon.
Especially as it’s clear that City remain a wounded animal at present, still licking their wounds from the loss Aymeric Laporte at centre back, as in his absence the defensive frailties of the likes of Otamendi and Stones were all to see in defeats to Norwich away and Wolves at home. Defeats that have left City unable to afford many more slip ups in the face of an ever consistent Liverpool side. The loss of Vincent Kompany as both a leader and another body for Pep to rely on at the back has been palpable this season as the surprise defeats mentioned above underlined. City’s attack is still at potent as ever and has incredible depth with the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus et al ( and Leroy Sane when fit again) ready to come into the eleven and show their supreme talent. Yet the clear fact remains that City clearly lack reliable depth at the back, in central position at least
Something that Liverpool’s electric front three should be able to expose at Anfield. Though, it is whether Klopp decides to play the in-form Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain behind his infamous front three that could be key on Sunday. Klopp has often opted for the stability of essentially three holding midfield players in bigger games, yet perhaps it is time that he rolls the dice and attempts to blow City away in the early stages of the game as his side has often done versus other top six contenders.
Liverpool have only lost one league game in the last fifty, an incredible feat, yet it was a series of draws in the winter months last season that ultimately cost them the title. A draw would not be a bad result at all but a win would be almost monumental. And Klopp will need to decide how much is willing to risk at this stage of the season in regard to this possibility. Though if he wipes away his respect for Pep and his superb City team, he might well see that Liverpool will today face a team that is somewhat there for the taking.
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