Man City match is Liverpool’s opportunity to prove they can win the title


Liverpool are the only team that have disrupted Manchester City’s domination of the Premier League over the last six seasons. Indeed, the Reds are the only team not in sky blue to have got their hands on the trophy in that time and they could be the only team capable of stopping City from making it six titles in seven years this season.

Saturday’s meeting between City and Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium could be one of the biggest matches of the whole season. It is Liverpool’s opportunity to prove they can go toe-to-toe with the defending Premier League champions and win a second title with Jurgen Klopp in charge. There is a lot riding on the outcome.

A victory would take Liverpool top of the table with the Anfield side just one point behind Manchester City. Alternatively, a defeat could drop them down the table with just three points between City in top spot and Aston Villa down in fifth. Competition at the top end of the Premier League is especially stiff this season.

There have been signs of improvement from Liverpool since last season. Klopp rebuild his midfield unit over the summer transfer window with Wataru Endo, Ryan Gravenberch, Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai arriving and Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita pushed out the exit door.

This reconstruction has given Liverpool more energy through the centre of the pitch. Liverpool once again have the drive to counter-press and play a quick transition style, something they became renowned for under Klopp. The likes of Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz are all benefiting from this midfield renewal.

Klopp’s new-look team is still a work-in-progress, but things have come together quicker than most envisaged. Liverpool have only lost one Premier League match this season and that was away to Tottenham Hotspur when the visitors had a Diaz goal chalked off when it clearly should have stood.

Defensively, adjustments have been made with Trent Alexander-Arnold frequently pushed into central midfield where he can pull the strings, leaving Liverpool with three at the back for phases. This is something Andy Robertson has struggled with, although the Scotland international will be sidelined for Saturday’s match against Manchester City. Kostas Tsimikas is expected to play instead.

Some argue Liverpool still need a world class number six to truly compete for the biggest trophies again. Endo was brought in from Stuttgart during the summer, but many see the Japanese international as a stop-gap solution. Mac Allister has been most frequently used at the base of the midfield despite being more comfortable further forward.

Nonetheless, Liverpool have built momentum ahead of Saturday’s trip to the Etihad Stadium. Last season, they were nowhere near the standard set by City at the top of the English and European game, but there has been a resurgence at Anfield since then with hope growing of a successful 2023/24 campaign.

City’s long injury list includes Erling Haaland, John Stones, Kevin de Bruyne and Ederson and could swing Saturday’s match in Liverpool’s favour. Klopp knows how to get the better of Pep Guardiola, considering how many times he has beaten the Catalan coach in the past, and that could also be another factor this weekend.

The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester City over the past five years or has been a fierce one and Saturday’s clash could mark a resumption of the hostilities. Last season, City didn’t feel threatened by the Merseyside outfit. This season, though, it could be a different story. Liverpool can use this weekend’s match to make a statement.

Author: Mark Hayes