PREVIEW: Manchester City vs Liverpool – The game of the season?

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The New Year will get underway with a bang when Manchester City host Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium in the most decisive game of the Premier League season so far!

Seven points separate the two sides heading into the massive showdown, with the champions sitting in third place and Liverpool still unbeaten in first.

It was a 5-0 win in the corresponding fixture last season which really gave the first glimpse of how dominant City would prove to be in 2017-18, but they find themselves in the unfamiliar position of playing catch-up now.

Three defeats in the space of five Premier League games – including shock ones at the hands of Crystal Palace and Leicester City either side of Christmas – have been ruthlessly punished by Liverpool to leave the champions seven points adrift of Thursday’s visitors.

Another loss in this match would leave them 10 points off the pace, which would be approaching the realms of unassailable even for this Man City team considering the form Liverpool have shown so far this season.

Pep Guardiola’s side are not even Liverpool’s closest challengers going into Thursday’s match, with Tottenham Hotspur’s victory over Cardiff City on New Year’s Day lifting them back above City into second place.

Only a draw is needed to regain second from Spurs, although Guardiola will know that nothing less than a victory – which would close the gap to four points – will do in terms of their title aspirations.

Liverpool trailed Man City by a full 20 points after 20 games of last season, so the significance of going 10 points clear of the champions with victory on Thursday will not be lost on Klopp and his players.

The Reds are so far proving every bit as dominant as City were last term and are on course to surpass even their record 100-point haul, having dropped just six from the 60 on offer so far this term.

Manchester City Team News

Kevin De Bruyne is a doubt for this match after picking up a muscle problem which ruled him out of the win over Southampton on Sunday.

Ilkay Gundogan should be fit to return from an injury issue of his own, but Guardiola may opt to stick with the midfield trio of David SilvaBernardo Silva and Fernandinho, the latter of whom made a welcome return to the side at St Mary’s.

Fabian Delph remains suspended, but the likes of Kyle WalkerJohn Stones and Leroy Sane are pushing for recalls after missing out against Southampton.

Sergio Aguero is expected to lead the line once more as he looks to maintain his record of scoring in all six home league games against Liverpool, and should he manage that then he would chalk up his 250th career league goal.

Predicted Line-up (4-3-3)

Ederson

Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko

Bernardo, Fernandinho, Silva

Sterling, Aguero, Sane

Liverpool Team News

Liverpool are still without Joel Matip and Joe Gomez, but James Milner could be fit to return from a slight hamstring injury.

Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita are among the players hoping for a recall to the starting XI, although the form of Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho leaves Klopp spoilt for choice in midfield.

Roberto Firmino is fresh from scoring a hat-trick against Arsenal, while Mohamed Salah is also in fine form having both scored and assisted in each of his last three league games.

The Egyptian has a good record against City too, having scored three and assisted two more in his last four meetings.

Predicted Line-up (4-2-3-1) 

Alisson

Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson

Wijnaldum, Henderson

Mane, Firmino, Keita

Salah

Head-to-Head

Man City have won just one of their last eight meetings with Liverpool across all competitions, although that did come in the corresponding fixture last season.

However, Liverpool won on their most recent visit to the Etihad Stadium in the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season and have only lost one of their last four away games against City.

Man City did manage to break a streak of three successive defeats in this competition with the goalless draw at Anfield in October, although they missed a late penalty which would have secured all three points in that match

Betting Odds

Manchester City are priced at odds of winning 21/20 (2.05) according to Yobetit.com, while a draw is available at 5/2 (3.50). A win for Liverpool is set for 12/5 (3.40).

Odds are subject to change.

Click here to see all of Yobetit’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.

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