What could be a better start to the new year than two of the title favourites locking horns with each other, in the biggest match of the season, so far?
The stage is set, as Manchester City will be hosting the table toppers, Liverpool, in the Etihad Stadium this Thursday.
Seven points separate the two sides with the defending champions sitting on the third spot while Klopp’s men are sitting comfortably on top, without having tasted any defeat yet.
On the other hand, the Citizens have recently faced three shocking defeats in the span of five Premier League games – out of which two came at the hands of Crystal Palace and Leicester City.
Pep Guardiola’s men have to manage a draw to regain the second spot from Tottenham Hotspur. A win would reduce the difference to just four points, and a loss would put them ten points behind the dominant Liverpool side.
Let’s take a look at five players who could decide this mouth-watering fixture:
Virgil Van Dijk
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We’ll find it out in the City-Liverpool fixture. While Guardiola’s men are the leading scorers with 54 goals to their name, Klopp’s side has conceded the least number of goals in EPL while allowing just eight goals.
On his day, Virgil van Dijk is a wall which wouldn’t let anything pass through it. Since the arrival of the Dutchman, Liverpool’s defense has improved a lot. The 6’4″ tall centre-back has been the man to lift Liverpool’s recent defensive fortunes.
Along with his rock-solid defense, the Dutchman provides attacking impetus to Klopp’s side with his aerial threat and might play a huge role in the result of this fixture.
David Silva has been acting as the engine of raging Manchester City side. The Spaniard has shown time and again proved to be a vital organ of the team in critical situations as well as important fixtures.
The 32-year-old playmaker has already scored six goals and provided two assists in the Premier League, this season.
It is expected that Sane, Aguero, and Sterling would lead the attack for the Citizen while Silva provides the creative impetus. Thus, he would be playing a vital role in this important fixture for the Citizens and might prove to be the match decider, as well.
Roberto Firminho has been out of his customary goalscoring form since the start of the season. However, Firminho has still managed to score seven goals for the Reds and has provided four assists – with a hattrick coming against Arsenal in the most recent game.
The Brazilian striker is fresh from the game against Arsenal and would be looking to make merry of the form he is in to shine in yet another important fixture.
Also, he would be vital in making space for the likes of Salah and Mane with his smart and tireless runs.
Following a drowsy start to the season, Salah is finally alive and kicking. The Egyptian has scored thirteen league goals and has set up another eight.
Salah has picked up his usual pace and looks to be in a splendid form as he has scored and assisted in each of his last three Premier League fixtures.
The former Roma man has scored three goals and assisted twice in the last four meetings against Manchester City. It is a very important fixture in Liverpool’s bid to win their first title in Premier League era, and Salah would be motivated to drive the reds, closer to the title.
Sergio Aguero is expected to lead the attack for the Citizens. The interesting stat is that Argentine striker has scored at home in each of his six Premier League meetings with Liverpool.
The 30-year-old striker has scored nine league goals and provided five assists, this season. The Argentine striker has been the main source of goals since joining Manchester City. Aguero always shows up in big matches and Liverpool might fall victim to his rage, yet again.
If Sergio Aguero scores against the visitors, he would chalk up his 250th career league goal – A mark he’d like to achieve in an important fixture like this one. This is a ‘do or die’ situation for Pep Guardiola’s men, and, Aguero is the man to look upon in these crucial situations.
If City lets this one slip through, they’ll most probably end up out the title race, but a win here will definitely make things interesting.