“Surely this fixture can never live up to the hype but if it does … gawd it would be beautiful,” writes Mary Waltz. Here’s hoping!
Here’s the PA Media take on the line-ups:
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp went with his tried-and-tested big-game line-up for the visit of Manchester City.
That meant four changes from the Champions League win over Genk with Andy Robertson returning at left-back, Jordan Henderson coming back into midfield and Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane rejoining the forward line.
City made six changes as Claudio Bravo started in goal for the injured Ederson with three of the back four from Wednesday’s Champions League draw against Atalanta altered.
John Stones was picked to partner Fernandinho in the centre of defence with Kyle Walker and Angelino, who was making only his second Premier League start. Rodrigo came into midfield with Sergio Aguero preferred up front to Gabriel Jesus.
Andy Hunter had a chat with Alisson this week. Here’s his interview:
Last season we had a great experience, an almost perfect season. We lost one game and that one game was against City. We know how big this game is for us. We know how big the game is for everyone – for them and for our fans. In the end it is just three more important points but Manchester City have been the best team in the league for the last few years so we need to give everything to win this game. We don’t want to feel how we felt last season. Being second by just one point means we know that we need to give everything in every game if we want to become Premier League champions. We want it and we will try to do it.
Much more here:
So Ederson, as advertised, is missing and Claudio Bravo starts in his place behind a back four of Walker-Stones-Fernandinho-Angelino. Otherwise the teams look entirely surprise-free.
The team news is in, and here are this afternoon’s protagonists:
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Mane. Subs: Milner, Keita, Gomez, Adrian, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana, Origi.
Man City: Bravo, Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Jose Angelino, De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Aguero, Sterling. Subs: Gabriel Jesus, Silva, Mahrez, Joao Cancelo, Otamendi, Carson, Foden.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
And here are Pep Guardiola’s:
I’ve never gone into a game feeling like an outsider or an underdog, thinking I am not going to win. I am not going to take the bus to Liverpool thinking I am going to lose the game. That has never happened in my career. Always I try to believe that, if we do the special things we plan to do, we will have our chance to win.
Much more here:
Here are Barney Ronay’s pre-match thoughts:
There is also something different in the texture of this injury-depleted City team. Guardiola loves midfielders, wants to turn the entire world a shade of midfielder, would ideally simply substitute the word “midfielder” for the word footballer. Three months into the season this team has gone Full Midfielder. Seven City midfielders have scored a league goal. Eight City midfielders have started five league games or more, compared with three career defenders.
Much more here:
I have a lot of pre-match reading for you. Honestly, tell everyone in the room to go away for an hour or so, because you’re going to be too busy staring at your phone/tablet/other device to interact in any meaningful way. First off: Mane-Firmino-Salah or Sterling-Aguero-whoever? That is the question:
And welcome to the first leg of this season’s Premier League title play-off! Both teams will I’m sure be looking forward to a bit of genuine competition, away from the 36 mildly glorified irritant friendlies which occupy the majority of their domestic attentions. Whoever wins this one will carry an advantage into the second leg, scheduled for the weekend of 4 April, though the nine-point deficit City will be lumbered with should they lose, coupled with Liverpool’s ongoing refusal to be beaten by anyone under any circumstances, might make that one immaterial.
While we wait for the teams here’s a little trip down memory lane, at previous matches between these teams at Anfield since Pep Guardiola joined Jürgen Klopp in England:
Last year’s league game ended goalless, thanks to Riyad Mahrez’s late penalty miss:
The teams played at Anfield twice in 2017-18, with the first one ending City’s run of 30 undefeated league games:
And the second going a long way to ending their Champions League chances (it was the first leg, but nobody gives away a 3-0 first-leg advantage, except Barcelona obviously):
And finally, on New Year’s Eve 2016, Liverpool’s win gave them renewed hope of catching the division’s runaway leaders, Chelsea:
And if that’s not enough, have a bit of this:
Nguồn The Guardian