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    Manchester City vs Liverpool Match Preview


    Two of the Premier League's heavyweights kick off an exciting weekend of football as second-place Liverpool travel to fourth-place Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

    Jurgen Klopp's side produced dazzling performances in their back-to-back victories against Hoffenheim and Arsenal and have also been boosted by the recent arrival of £35 million-signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

    Opponents City have spent £220 million on assembling a much-improved squad this summer but, in contrast, have been made to work much harder to claim their seven points from the opening three games of the season.

    Manchester City

    After a disappointing 2016-17 campaign, in which City only finished third in the league and failed to claim any silverware, the pressure has been cranked up on Pep Guardiola in his second season as manager.

    The Sky Blues made the biggest ever financial investment over a single transfer window, with the addition of five key players including £43 million midfielder Bernardo Silva from Monaco and £34.9 million goalkeeper Ederson from Benfica.

    The club also spent £120 million on full-backs alone, with Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy set to provide the kind of width that Guardiola utilised so famously in his time at Barcelona in the form of Dani Alves and Eric Abidal.

    City have not enjoyed an easy start to the season but have managed to carve out results in the latter stages of games, which is something that has been lacking at the club since they last captured the Premier League title in 2014.

    It took Guardiola's side 70 minutes to break down a stubborn Brighton outfit on the opening weekend of the season, while 10-men City then needed to back from a first-half Wayne Rooney strike to claim a point against Everton with only eight minutes remaining.

    The club also needed to fight back from 1-0 down against Bournemouth shortly before the international break to secure a 2-1 victory courtesy of Raheem Sterling's winner coming in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

    City's failed attempts to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, in addition to Sterling's one-match suspension for his exuberant goal celebration, means that either Sergio Aguero or Leroy Sane will likely be recalled to the club's starting XI this weekend.

    Liverpool

    Liverpool have begun the season in blistering fashion, having swept aside Hoffenheim 6-3 on aggregate in a potentially tricky Champions League qualifier before they produced an even more impressive performance two weeks ago against Arsenal.

    The Reds have already scored 14 goals in their opening five matches of the season, with Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino all hitting purple patches having scored three goals each.

    Defenders have failed to cope with the pace of Mane since he moved to Anfield at the start of last season, while the club have finally found an outlet on the right-wing to provide an even balance to their play in the form of Salah.

    The pace that Liverpool now have on both flanks, however, did not deter Klopp from forking out £35 million on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal on transfer deadline day although the position he will occupy in the long-term is yet to be determined.

    It is also easy to forget that both Philippe Coutinho, a summer target for Barcelona, and Adam Lallana, who has a thigh injury, have not played a minute's football for The Reds this season, although that will not change following this weekend's games.

    Liverpool's strong squad could enable the club to challenge for major honours this season, as well as their ability to maintain the excellent form they displayed in matches against the Premier League's top seven sides from 2016-17.

    Klopp's side have not tasted a league defeat against either Manchester club, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton or Tottenham since Wayne Rooney 78th-minute strike earned United a 1-0 win at Anfield 20 months ago.

    Manchester City Team News

    Raheem Sterling will miss the chance to face his former club after his late sending-off in the 2-1 win against Bournemouth, which will give Guardiola the chance to recall either Sergio Aguero or Leroy Sane.

    City will also be without Vincent Kompany after he sustained a minor calf injury while representing Belgium on international duty and he will most likely be replaced in central defence by John Stones.

    Kyle Walker returns from a one-match ban and is set to dislodge Danilo from the right-back position, with Benjamin Mendy continuing as left-back having made his debut shortly before the international break.

    Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is also close to a first-team return having spent 10 months on the sidelines with a knee injury, which he sustained against Watford in December 2016.

    Liverpool Team News

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to make his debut for Liverpool this Saturday lunchtime, although it is most likely to come as a right-back due to the continued injury absence of Nathaniel Clyne.

    That would mean Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez, who have deputised for Clyne so far this season, would join the likes of James Milner and Daniel Sturridge amongst the substitutes.

    Philippe Coutinho, who returned to action following a back injury to represent Brazil on international duty, will not be involved as Klopp believes his time will be better spent by taking part in extra training.

    Adam Lallana remains on the sidelines with a thigh strain, where he is joined by goalkeeper Adam Bogdan who is on the road to recovery from a long-term knee injury.

    Head-to-head

    Manchester City have only beaten Liverpool on seven occasions in history of the Premier League, with The Reds winning 18 and drawing 15 of their 40 meetings going back to December 1992.

    The 1-1 draw between the two sides at The Etihad Stadium in March interrupted a four-game winning run for Liverpool in the Premier League head-to-head, with Sergio Aguero's 69th-minute goal cancelling out James Milner's penalty.

    City did however beat Jurgen Klopp's team on penalties in the final of the 2016 Capital One Cup, following a 1-1 draw, although the runners-up gained a measure of revenge three days later with a 3-0 win at Anfield.

    Liverpool also lead the all-time head-to-head with 101 wins and 52 draws in all competitions, with City claiming 53 wins from the 206 matches that have been played between the two sides.

    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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