Liverpool vs. Manchester City: Premier League Matchday 28 Preview

This one could decide the league, and will certainly be a fascinating and fun match- can Klopp capture magic one last time?
Liverpool FC v Brentford FC - Premier League
Liverpool FC v Brentford FC - Premier League / MB Media/GettyImages

This is the big one; the Anfield Premier League fixture against Manchester City. Of course, both sides will have 10 matches to play after this one, but it’s not hard to imagine that this one could turn out to be a title-decider in hindsight. 

Liverpool come in with a lead of just a point, with the two sides finally at parity in terms of games played. Where they most certainly are not on a level playing field is health; City finally have their stars back, while Liverpool still have several either off the pitch or set to play a limited role.

This fixture has been the World’s best for some time now, and the final Premier League chapter of the Klopp-Guardiola rivalry looks to be as dramatic as any we’ve seen before.

Should they earn all three points, Liverpool would be in prime position to win the league, while a loss would be a real problem. Let’s see how both Klopp and Guardiola might approach this all-important clash.

Top of the Pitch

Finally, Mo Salah returned, even if only for a cameo. He was on the pitch long enough to have a perfectly fine goal disallowed in Liverpool’s Europa League matchup with Sparta Prague, and should be highly motivated to have yet another big day against City- he scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win at Anfield last year.

That being said, we still shouldn’t expect him to start after playing just about 20 minutes on Thursday; a solid half-hour off the bench could change everything, as his fresh legs enter a pitch full of weary ones.

So who could be in the lineup? Definitely expect the red-hot Darwin Nunez, who kept up his own great form with a first-half brace against Sparta.

Luis Díaz was also pulled before the end of the match; expect him to start as well. The final forward spot could go to Cody Gakpo or Harvey Elliott, both of whom played a full match against Sparta.

Of course, whoever of the two starts is all but surely getting lifted for Salah at some point, and the other is a strong candidate to make a bench appearance of their own.

City’s defense has been the third-stingiest unit in the Premier League, exceeding Liverpool’s goals allowed total by just two. That being said, key players like Rúben Dias and Ederson have been known to absolutely melt in big matches, especially against Liverpool, and even more so at Anfield, so don’t be surprised if Liverpool’s front three, led by Captain Chaos himself, is able to create some havoc. 

The Midfield

This is a bit of a challenging spot; you’d normally expect Klopp to bench any of the starters who played against Sparta, but he doesn’t really have that luxury given the squad’s current depth.

Alexis Mac Allister, who is in blistering hot form, came off early on Thursday, and is absolutely starting against City. Wataru Endō played the full match, but he’ll likely do the same on Sunday, not a rare feat for the Japan stalwart. 

The third spot is the interesting one. Elliott could be the pick if he’s not in the front three, Dominik Szoboszlai, another midweek goal scorer, could make a start if Klopp finds him fit enough,

Joe Gomez could make another puzzling midfield appearance, or, least likely of all, we could see yet another big start for a Liverpool teenage rising talent. 

This is easily the most vulnerable portion of the pitch for Liverpool; if City win or draw, it’s likely because they dominated here. The trio of Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, and Bernardo Silva is not only the best in the World by a broad margin, it's incredibly diverse in style, making it very challenging to counter.

John Stones even slides up to play a central defensive midfield position at times; there’s no end to Guardiola trickery in this area.

City are tops in the league in average possession percentage with an outrageous mark of 65.9% compared to Liverpool down in fifth place for that metric, so overperformance will be needed from this particular Reds position group.

The Back End

We’ve officially reached a point where Liverpool’s title push rests on the shoulders of Caoimhin Kelleher. He’s been in some big moments before, but the Irish keeper will be facing his toughest opponent yet by quite some margin when City come to town.

He’s been on fire, but this fixture is a totally different animal; he could be challenged by the likes of Erling Haaland, De Bruyne, and anyone else on the pitch for City.

The back four is suddenly no longer the clear most-healthy position group on the squad. Trent Alexander-Arnold is still out, while Ibrahima Konaté and Gomez are both less than 100%. Still, Virgil van Dijk is ready to go after a valuable Thursday rest day, youngster Conor Bradley has plenty of gas in the tank for his biggest outing yet, and veteran left back Any Robertson will hold down the fort against Phil Foden, regardless of the Englishman's current excellent form.

The centre-back position next to Virgil will come down to health, and if neither top option is ready to go- or perhaps even if one or both are all set- expect to see a heavy dose of Jarell Quansah.

Lastly, we come to City’s front line. They are the third-highest scoring team in the league despite extended missed time from Haaland and De Bruyne. With those two on the pitch, and given Foden’s current form, City’s attack will certainly be giving Liverpool’s defense all it can handle.