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    Manchester City vs Liverpool Match Preview


    Liverpool will be hoping to maintain their excellent record against top-six sides on Sunday when they face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

    Jurgen Klopp's team are unbeaten in matches against Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal this season and have already beaten City at Anfield courtesy of an early Georginio Wijnaldum goal.

    The home side have endured a difficult week following their surprise exit from the Champions League and another defeat against Liverpool could see Pep Guardiola's team with a battle on their hands in order to qualify for next season's competition.

    Manchester City

    The signs looked good for The Sky Blues as they went into Wednesday's Champions League tie against Monaco, who were without their 21-goal top scorer Radamel Falcao and trailed by a two-goal deficit from the first leg.

    After inconsistent form in December and January, City had put together an unbeaten run of 11 matches in all competitions and even their much-maligned defence and goalkeepers had kept seven clean sheets in their last 10 matches.

    The first-half performance against the French league-leaders exposed weaknesses in the City defence that their critics believe have never been full-solved, especially in the absence of Vincent Kompany who watched on from the sidelines.

    John Stones and Aleksandar Kolorov failed to nullify a high-tempo and dynamic Monaco attack in the first-half, with only Fernandinho offering protection in a heavily offensive line-up to an otherwise exposed City back-four.

    Despite a vast improvement after the break, City proved over the course of both legs that their team is still a work in progress and there is much work to be done until the club can become genuine contenders in both the Premier League and Champions League.

    There are more immediate concerns for Pep Guardiola and his players, however, starting with this weekend's clash with top-four rivals Liverpool and they could fall two points behind The Reds with a repeat of their defeat on New Year's Eve.

    That would put City's chances of qualifying for next season's Champions League further in the balance with the club's first two fixtures after the international break coming away from home against Arsenal and Chelsea.

    Liverpool

    Sunday's trip to the Etihad Stadium represents Liverpool's final match of the season against one of the Premier League's current top-six sides and Jurgen Klopp will be eager to end that 10-game mini-league unbeaten.

    Even in the midst of a woeful run in both league and cup at the start of 2017, The Reds still recorded creditable draws against Manchester United and Chelsea as well as outstanding home wins against Tottenham and Arsenal.

    While Liverpool have demonstrated no problems against top-six sides this season, they have been vulnerable in matches against the Premier League's lesser lights as well as in games where they have needed to win ugly.

    The club finally proved that they have what it takes to win with their 'B-game' last Sunday in an error-strewn performance against 12th-place Burnley, who took a seventh-minute lead but succumbed to goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can. 

    Liverpool have the advantage of having a full week to prepare for Sunday's encounter whereas City's loss to Monaco was the seventh match they have played in three different competitions over the course of 25 days.

    The Reds also possess an excellent recent record against City with four consecutive league wins, while they have only lost against The Sky Blues on seven occasions in the Premier League from 39 previous matches.

    Klopp's side would move eight points ahead of fifth-place Arsenal with a victory, although Manchester United would still remain six points behind the Reds, with two games in hand, if they beat Middlesbrough at midday.

    Manchester City Team News

    Pep Guardiola has the option of bringing back Pablo Zabaleta, Nicolas Otamendi and Yaya Toure into the starting line-up after the trio were dropped for Wednesday night's Champions League defeat against Monaco.

    Willy Caballero is likely to remain Guardiola's first-choice stopper despite conceding three goals in midweek, with the club's former number one Claudio Bravo failing to make a league appearance since the 2-2 draw against Tottenham on January 21.

    Captain Vincent Kompany has been fully-fit for over three weeks but Guardiola recently confirmed that the defender has not appeared in recent games due to the risk of him picking up another injury.

    The club remain without the services of Gabriel Jesus (metatarsal fracture) and Ilkay Gundogan (knee) who have been sidelined in recent weeks with long-term injuries.

    Liverpool Team News

    Jurgen Klopp will recall defender Dejan Lovren for the first time since January 31 after he made his long-awaited comeback from a knee injury for the club's Under-23 side on Monday.

    Divock Origi, who started in the win over Burnley last weekend, is a doubt after picking-up a knock, while the Belgian international was also forced to miss training this week due to illness.

    Roberto Firmino will be assessed before the game to see whether he has fully shaken-off the groin strain which forced him to miss last Sunday's win, although the Brazilian did return to training this week at Melwood.

    Captain Jordan Henderson (bruised foot) and striker Daniel Sturridge (hip) remain on the sidelines, while Danny Ings and Adam Bogdan (both knee) are long-term absentees through injury.

    Head-to-head

    Manchester City beat Liverpool 3-1 on penalties, with the score level at 1-1 following extra-time, in the 2016 Capital One Cup final although that remains the only time they have avoided defeat against Sunday's opponents in five meetings.

    City have a much better record in home matches than they have at Anfield, with their last five wins coming at the City of Manchester Stadium compared with only one win away from home since 1981.

    Liverpool have dominated the head-to-head in the Premier League era with 18 wins and 14 draws from 39 encounters, while The Reds have also knocked City out of the League Cup in 1995 and 2012 and FA Cup in 2001 and 2003.

    In a rivalry that was first contested in 1893, Jurgen Klopp's side also dominate the overall record between the teams with 101 wins, 51 draws and only 53 defeats from 205 previous encounters.

    Score Prediction

    Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool
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    Item Reviewed: Manchester City vs Liverpool Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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