Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Prediction: Manchester City vs Liverpool

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 8 Apr 2022

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Verdict: Total goals over 3.5

Best odds: 7/4

Bookmaker: Betfair

The match of the season, it has been branded in the Premier League. That, of course, is very hard to dispute at the moment. Manchester City and Liverpool have been fierce rivals in the last couple of years, not just on the domestic scene, with each perfectly capable of winning when the other seems unstoppable.

It’s Manchester City who are to ‘blame’ for Liverpool not winning more than one Premier League title under Jurgen Klopp so far. It’s Liverpool who are to ‘blame’ for Manchester City not exclusively dominating the English top flight since 2017-18. It’s Manchester City who are given the shortest odds among the English clubs to win the Champions League each year. It’s Liverpool who (along with Chelsea last season) have actually won it, while for Pep Guardiola’s team it remains the Holy Grail.

But more than that is at stake when the two titans clash at the Etihad on Sunday.

Manchester City

Having started the season in a slightly underwhelming manner, City quickly picked up their pace and started winning as ruthlessly as ever. A brilliant run, spanning the end of 2021 and the start of 2022, saw them pull away at the top, and there was a moment when even the most die-hard Liverpool supporters were forced to consider the possibility that the title race might just be over.

However, there came a halt in that charge, and several rather disappointing results since have blown the door wide open again. The two teams have played 30 league matches each, and City lead the way with 73 points, with Liverpool breathing down their necks again on 72. It’s the final stretch of the 2018-19 season all over again, and City will be hoping it remains like that until the very end.

The list of last six matches City have played in all competitions consists of a 4-1 home win over city rivals Manchester United, a goalless but ultimately meaningless draw at home against Sporting Lisbon in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16, a very important goalless draw away to Crystal Palace, a 1-4 triumph away to Southampton in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup, a 0-2 win away to Burnley, and a difficult 1-0 win at home against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals.

Team News

Guardiola is sweating over the availability of Ruben Dias, whose arrival at the start of last season provided a lot of defensive stability to his team. The Portuguese centre-back has been having problems with a thigh injury and as things stand, he’s highly unlikely to return in time for this match.

Left-back Benjamin Mendy is still suspended, with criminal proceedings for seven counts of rape against him in motion. At the moment, it seems unlikely he’ll ever represent the club again.

Guardiola is known for tinkering with his lineup according to momentary form and tactical needs against a certain opponent, so it’s never easy to guess the starting XI he’s about to name. However, it’s fairly certain he won’t be starting the match against Liverpool without Ederson Moraes in goal, Kyle Walker at right-back, Aymeric Laporte in the heart of defence, Rodri anchoring the midfield and Kevin De Bruyne tasked with running the show. John Stones is also likely to start ahead of Nathan Ake, as is Oleksandr Zinchenko at left-back. Ilkay Gundogan will probably compete with Bernardo Silva for the remaining midfield slot, while upfront, it’ll be Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez all hoping to start.

Liverpool

At the moment, the Merseysiders remain the only English team with a chance of winning the fabled ‘quadruple’. They’ve already taken the Carabao Cup, so they won’t end the season without a trophy whatever happens from hereon. They’re in good stead to reach the semifinals of the Champions League, and as has been said, they’re close behind City in the Premier League table. What hasn’t been said yet is that Liverpool and City play again six days after this clash, in the semifinals of the FA Cup at Wembley. An emotion-packed week awaits both sets of supporters.

Klopp and his men have done extremely well to take advantage of City’s questionable results in some matches recently, keeping their cool and staying as professional as possible to win game after game. Many expected them to start dropping points left and right during the AFCON-related absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, but that period saw them win both league matches they played, as well as dispose of Arsenal in the semifinals of the Carabao Cup.

Liverpool’s last-six runs begins with a totally benign 0-1 home defeat to Inter Milan in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16. Then they beat Brighton and Hove Albion away by 0-2, Arsenal away by 0-2, Nottingham Forest away in the FA Cup by 0-1, Watford at home by 2-0, and eventually Benfica in Lisbon by 1-3 in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals earlier this week.

Team News

Guardiola may have just one worry regarding the fitness of his players, but Klopp has confirmed he has none. There was a moment at the end of the Benfica clash when he might have been concerned about Fabinho potentially suffering concussion, but the Brazilian midfielder is fine and ready to play.

As is the case with City, it’s not very easy to guess the 11 names Klopp will be putting down on his list of starters for this match, but some names are nailed on: Alisson Becker in goal, Virgil van Dijk in the heart of defence, Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right defensive flank, Andy Robertson on the left, Fabinho shielding the back line, Mohamed Salah attacking down the right.

Joel Matip is likely to start too, ahead of Ibrahima Konate who scored his first goal for the club against Benfica. Thiago Alcantara, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, James Milner, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all hoping get one of the two remaining slots in midfield, while Mane, Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz all have their eyes on the prospect of joining Salah upfront. Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi will probably consider themselves lucky if they get a place on the bench.

Conclusion

If there was ever a finely balanced tie in football, it’s this one. These are two superb teams; no rational football lover can dispute that. The only thing that feels certain is that we’re in for an exciting contest, contest in every sense of the word imaginable.

City won’t be too unhappy with a draw, but there is no way they will be playing for it. For Liverpool, anything but a win will leave a sour taste.

The ball will probably move quickly from one end of the pitch to the other; plenty of chances, goals.

Verdict: Total goals over 3.5

Best odds: 7/4

Bookmaker: Betfair

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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Mohamed
Mohamed
1 month ago

I don’t think if city will win this game

Mohamed
Mohamed
1 month ago

As a Liverpool fan i believe mohamed salah, jota and Dias. Already we have 3 goals. And the match will end 3 -1

Abdul
Abdul
1 month ago
Reply to  Mohamed

agree fam bro liverpool this year is doing very well.I think they will even win the UCL

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