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    Liverpool vs Manchester City Match Preview


    Liverpool begin life without Philippe Coutinho on Sunday in a mouth-watering encounter against unbeaten Premier League leaders Manchester City at Anfield.

    The Brazilian international joined Barcelona on Monday in a £142 million deal, which was completed only a week after The Reds had splashed out the cash themselves on Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk.

    Opponents Manchester City (64) are the only team to have scored more than Liverpool's 50 Premier League goals so far this season, while Pep Guardiola's side currently have a 15-point lead over second-place United in the title race.

    Liverpool

    Virgil van Dijk will make his Premier League debut for Liverpool on Sunday following a £75 million move from Southampton on New Year's Day, which made him the most expensive defender in football history.

    With September's 5-0 drubbing against Manchester City still fresh in many people's minds, The Reds will be looking for their new signing to make an instant impact as he takes his place alongside Joel Matip in the back-four.

    Liverpool will be aiming to become the first side to beat Manchester City in the Premier League for nine months, with the Sky Blues winning 26 of their 30 matches since a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in April 2017.

    Jurgen Klopp's team, however, come into the game in excellent form themselves, winning 12 and drawing five of their last 17 matches in all competitions, although they will need to quickly fill the void left by Philippe Coutinho's transfer to Barcelona.

    Coutinho had scored eight goals in 11 matches since Liverpool's unbeaten run started in October and is the club's third top-scorer on 12 goals, behind Mohamed Salah (23) and Roberto Firmino (16).

    Despite the daunting task that the home side face on Sunday, The Reds have happy memories of the fixture from last season with Georginio Wijnaldum's eighth-minute header giving his team a 1-0 victory.

    Three points against City would draw Liverpool level on points with second-place Manchester United and third-place Chelsea, while a defeat would mean that fifth-place Tottenham would leapfrog Klopp's side into fourth-place.

    Manchester City

    Pep Guardiola's team will open up an 18-point lead over second-place Manchester United if the club win at Anfield on Sunday, with United not playing until Monday's Old Trafford encounter against Stoke City.

    City's latest victory came on Tuesday in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, with Sergio Aguero's 92nd-minute winner giving his side, who had initially trailed, a 2-1 victory over Championship side Bristol City.

    It was the Sky Blues' 30th win from the 33 matches they have played this season, which keeps the club on track for a historic quadruple of winning the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

    City face one of their toughest challenges of the season at Anfield, however, with Liverpool coming into the game on a 17-match unbeaten run in addition to winning four of their last seven matches against City since the beginning of 2015.

    Pep Guardiola is also without three first-team players including Vincent Kompany, Benjamin Mendy and Gabriel Jesus, although the high-profile trio have only made a combined 25 Premier League starts between them this season.

    Sergio Aguero is once again City's top scorer with 19 goals in all competitions, while former Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling has had his most productive campaign as a professional player having netted on 18 occasions.

    The club have also conceded the fewest goals in the Premier League (13) and have kept 11 clean sheets from 22 matches, with Ederson Moraes receiving plaudits for some excellent goalkeeping performances since his £35 million acquisition last summer.

    Liverpool Team News

    Virgil van Dijk is set to make his first Premier League appearance in a Liverpool shirt alongside Joel Matip in central defence after scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup win over Everton on January 5.

    Liverpool are expected to make several changes from the Merseyside derby line-up, with Loris Karius, James Milner and Adam Lallana all likely to miss out in favour of Simon Mignolet, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Georginio Wijnaldum.

    Mohamed Salah, who has sat out the past two matches with a groin strain, is set to make his return, while Daniel Sturridge faces a late fitness test on a muscle injury that could prevent him from being named as a substitute.

    Nathaniel Clyne has still not recovered from the back injury he sustained last summer that has kept him on the sidelines, where he is joined by Jordan Henderson (hamstring) and Alberto Moreno (ankle).

    Manchester City Team News

    Pep Guardiola will make a whole host of changes from the side which beat Bristol City in the Carabao Cup in midweek, with Ederson Moraes, Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho and David Silva all set to feature after sitting out the first-leg tie.

    Kyle Walker and Sergio Aguero are likely to start the match having appeared as second-half substitutes on Tuesday night, while Fabian Delph could be chosen ahead of Danilo in the left-back position.

    City have four players unavailable due to injury, including Vincent Kompany whose calf strain has kept him out for the past two-and-a-half weeks and Gabriel Jesus, who sustained a knee ligament injury on New Year's Eve.

    Benjamin Mendy (knee) remains a long-term injury casualty having been ruled-out since September, while young midfielder Phil Foden is also still not ready to return after suffering ankle ligament damage last month.

    Head-to-head

    Liverpool have only lost in the Premier League against Manchester City on eight occasions from of a total of 41 matches, although one of those defeats came in the 5-0 hammering at the Etihad Stadium last September.

    The Reds had won four consecutive league meetings against City from March 2015 to December 2016 before Pep Guardiola's team stopped the rot by claiming a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium in March 2017.

    City, then managed by Manuel Pellegrini, did beat Liverpool in the final of the 2016 Capital One on penalties after the two sides played-out a 1-1 draw at Wembley, with Fernandinho and Philippe Coutinho scoring the goals.

    Jurgen Klopp's team have won 18 and drawn 15 of their 41 Premier League encounters with Sunday's opponents, while they also lead the way in the all-time head-to-head against City having won 101 and drawn 52 out of 207 matches played in all competitions. 

    Score Prediction

    Liverpool 1-2 Manchester City
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool vs Manchester City Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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