May 30, 2020

Oil in the fire

November 7, 2019
Jurgen Klopp with Pep Guardiola

Liverpool host Manchester City on Sunday at Anfield in what not only promises to be the game of the season but also the game that could define the season and determine who this term’s eventual title winners will be.

The matchup is living up to expectations, fireworks have already started flying around. Pep Guardiola fired the first shot by describing Sadio Mane as a “diver”. It a very obvious mind game tactics, trying to get into the referee’s mind every time Mane goes down under a tackle. So instead of the referee awarding Liverpool a free kick or penalty, he may end up showing the Senegalese striker a yellow card. It will be recalled that Liverpool lost 5-0 at the Etihad two seasons ago when Mane was sent off.

Pep’s gameplan for calling Mane a diver may not be as dramatic as getting him sent off, but he definitely wouldn’t be too upset if that happened.

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City knows by all means that they can’t afford to lose at Anfield because the way Liverpool have been going this season if they get a nine-point lead on their rivals, they will take some catching. The only points they have dropped this season were at Old Trafford to struggling Manchester United.

Liverpool goes into the game as most people’s favourites not just because they are playing at home but also because City has been going through a mini-crisis in the defence. With the injury to Aymeric Laporte and the strange loss of form to John Stones, their defence has become so much less formidable.

Fernandinho has been playing in the centre of defence for a few games now, partnering either Otamendi, Rodri or Stones. While Fernandinho has been doing a relatively good job in his new role against weaker teams, it is yet to be seen if he would be able to cope with the kind of firepower Liverpool possess.

It could even get worse for City on Sunday if Edison doesn’t return from the slight injury he suffered against Atalanta in the Champions League on Wednesday.

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Having said all that, it will be very unwise to write Manchester City off just yet. They play possession football and in most games, their best form of defence has been their attack. Let us also not forget that Pep is one of the best coaches around and he has been in similar situations before, coming out trumps. He knows even a draw at Anfield may not be good enough for his team so he will probably be going for a win.

This may be a dangerous move to make considering Liverpool have fast attackers who can hurt you on the counter. I am sure Pep knows this and I believe even though he will be looking for a win, he will approach the game very cautiously.

Klopp and Liverpool are in a good position at the moment. While it would be very great if they win the game, a draw won’t be a disastrous result either as they will still maintain their six-point lead.

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