Sergio Aguero thinks Jurgen Klopp bringing Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday will spark a positive reaction out of Manchester City.
The Premier League leaders drew a blank at Aston Villa prior to the international break and welcome a Liverpool side also hoping to recover from a poor result, having lost 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace.
City are nine points clear of Klopp’s men in the table but Aguero, who is hoping to feature after spending six weeks out with a hamstring injury, rates Liverpool as one of the toughest sides to play in England.
“It should be a great game,” Aguero told City’s official website. “Jurgen Klopp has come in and he is a great addition to the Premier League.
“I have stated before that it is a good thing that the best players and managers come to England – it makes it one of the most competitive tournaments in the whole world.
“Klopp did a great job at [Borussia] Dortmund and that secured his spot in the Premier League. I am sure he will have the time he needs to adapt.
“The truth is playing against tougher opponents makes us all better at our jobs.”
The Argentina star scored five times in his last City outing as Newcastle United were put to the sword at the Etihad and Manuel Pellegrini could have Fabian Delph (hamstring), David Silva (foot) and Pablo Zabaleta (knee) back in action after the trio joined Aguero in returning to training this week.
Vincent Kompany (calf) will be assessed ahead of kick-off, but Wilfried Bony (hamstring) is a major doubt.
Defender Gael Clichy understands the game’s importance given how close the title race is, with former club Arsenal only behind his side on goal difference.
He told Sky Sports: “The main priority to make sure that everyone is happy is to win things, so this game against Liverpool is a massive one to get three points.
“If we want to stay on top with Arsenal pushing really close behind then we have to keep on winning.
“It is a good thing for players to come back from the national teams and play this match at home, but it is going to be a long season and a very hard one.”
Klopp is paying little attention to the quality of Liverpool’s opponents and is backing his players to impose themselves on the table-toppers.
He said: “I don’t care about if they are the best team in the league – all I care about is if Liverpool are the best team in the league.
“Man City are a good team with good players. They are not bad! We will be prepared.
“I am really looking forward to this game, as a two-week break after Crystal Palace is long enough.”
Liverpool have Jordon Ibe, James Milner and Kolo Toure fit, but the game will come too soon for Jordan Henderson (foot) and Mamadou Sakho (knee).
The biggest selection dilemma for Klopp is whether to play Daniel Sturridge, who has only just returned to training after missing seven matches with a knee problem.
Key Opta stats:
– Man City have won four and lost none of their last six Premier League games against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.
– The Reds have lost just one of their last six Premier League away games (W2 D3 L1), but that came in Manchester at Old Trafford v Man Utd.
– Liverpool have scored just 13 Premier League goals, the joint-lowest tally of any Premier League season for the Reds after 12 matches.
– Manchester City have fired in the most shots on target of any team in the Premier League (83).
– Liverpool have the worst chance conversion rate of any team in the Premier League (10.5%).
– Philippe Coutinho has scored three goals in four Premier League appearances against Man City.
– Only opposing goalkeeper Joe Hart (14) has kept more Premier League clean sheets in 2015 than Simon Mignolet (13).
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