Wounded Manchester City look to refocus at Anfield

Filed on September 30, 2021
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola during the Champions League game against Paris St Germain. — Reuters

Pep Guardiola's side are coming off a reverse against Paris St Germain in the Champions League

If any fixture can refocus Manchester City’s minds after their midweek loss at Paris St Germain in the Champions League, it is a visit to Anfield to take on a Liverpool side who look a clear and present danger in the Premier League title race.

City’s statement win at Chelsea last weekend was followed by a decent performance in Paris on Tuesday where they were undone in a 2-0 defeat by a fearsome attack featuring Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

There will be no time for Pep Guardiola’s side to dwell on that reverse, however, when they take on Premier League leaders Liverpool, buoyant after a 5-1 Champions League win at Porto.

Liverpool boast the last remaining unbeaten Premier League record this season and lead the table by one point from City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton and Brighton & Hove Albion.

Sunday offers Jurgen Klopp’s side the chance to put some daylight between themselves and Guardiola’s side but also to avenge last season’s painful 4-1 defeat in the corresponding fixture in February — a match played at an empty Anfield.

That was a result, helped by a nightmare display from Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, that all but ended Liverpool’s hold on their title and left City in charge at the top.

This season, with Virgil van Dijk back at the heart of Liverpool’s defence and their intensity restored, the Reds look like the side that went toe-to-toe with City in a mesmerising 2018-19 race and then romped to the title the next season.

“We need a complex and complete performance against them to have a chance only and that’s it,” Klopp said of Sunday’s meeting. “But I’m really looking forward to it.”

Liverpool look set to be without right back Trent Alexander Arnold against City in which case James Milner could slot in.

City boss Guardiola was sanguine after the loss at PSG.

“In the end we were better. It was a good performance and we did everything but could not score,” the Spaniard said.

United host Everton

Before Liverpool and City lock horns, several sides have the chance to top the table on Saturday.

Manchester United host Everton in the weekend’s early kick-off, while later on, Chelsea welcome Southampton.

It has been a chastening past week for Chelsea with last weekend’s home defeat by City, a match they could have lost by more than 1-0, followed by a reverse at Juventus by the same scoreline in their defence of the Champions League title.

It was only the second time Chelsea have lost consecutive games since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard and, after looking like an impregnable force a few weeks ago, suddenly they look toothless with striker Romelu Lukaku lacking service.

“We were slow in our decision-making and we lacked that sharpness,” manager Tuchel said of the defeat in Turin and the German will demand an immediate response against a Southampton side still looking for a first win of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur host Aston Villa on Sunday hoping to snap a run of three successive league defeats, while across London, West Ham United take on a Brentford side who have been a breath of fresh air so far in their first Premier League campaign. — Reuters

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