Manchester City v Liverpool preview: Reds look to maintain unbeaten run against top six
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 19/03/17 4:46pm
Liverpool travel to Manchester City on Sunday afternoon with Jurgen Klopp's side looking to maintain their impressive record against teams from the top six this season.
The Reds, who currently trail third-placed City by a point, albeit having played a game more than their opponents this weekend, have collected 19 points from their nine games against their top-six rivals so far this season.
However, despite that impressive unbeaten record and the fact Pep Guardiola's team were knocked out of the Champions League last 16 at the hands of Monaco in midweek, Klopp does not think the Reds are favourites to win the Super Sunday clash at the Etihad.
"I don't think we are the favourites," Klopp said. "That's not too bad. We know that we can be difficult to play in games like this, that's true.
"We've felt good in these games so far but for me City is the most difficult team to play. It's real football, difficult to defend.
"We have to be at our best to get anything. If you get a little bit passive they play around you. I am really looking forward to this, it's a real tactical challenge.
"It's an important moment in the season, but I don't think we should involve this type of pressure. We know that it's possible to win.
"A lot of teams have failed [against them]. We know what we have to do, if we can do it, I don't know. But we will try everything. It could be a fantastic game to watch."
City, meanwhile, will be aiming to extend their own unbeaten run in domestic competitions that stretches back to January 15, and in the process maintain their top-four hopes.
Guardiola, though, says he will not change City's attacking style for the visit of Liverpool, even though his team threw away a 5-3 first-leg lead to exit Europe's premier club competition on away goals on Wednesday night.
"At the end we have to try," he said. "We have to defend better. When we create these kind of chances the opponents have to sit back.
"The problem in Monaco was that in the first half we did not create. We can't play the way we did in the first 45 minutes, that's why we are out. But over the two legs, I am very happy.
"Most of the goals we conceded were our mistake, it's happened many times this season and hopefully it will happen less next season."
City will be missing both Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan with long-term injuries, but Guardiola may opt to start with Yaya Toure and Nicolas Otamendi after the duo were only unused substitutes against Monaco.
Vincent Kompany is also hoping to earn a recall, despite the City captain - who has made just six appearances all season - having not been risked by Guardiola since overcoming a knee injury.
Liverpool hope Roberto Firmino will be fit for the game after the Brazilian sat out last week's win over Burnley with a groin injury. The forward returned to training on Friday, although striker Divock Origi is a doubt after missing Thursday's session.
Defender Dejan Lovren is fully fit after playing 75 minutes for the Under-23s on Monday, but Daniel Sturridge (hip) and Jordan Henderson (foot) are both sidelined.
City have lost five of their last six Premier League meetings with Liverpool (W1).
Indeed, Liverpool have won four consecutive league games against City for the first time since 1981 (a run of seven).
City have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 12 games in all competitions against Liverpool, shipping 23 in the process (W2 D4 L6).
Philippe Coutinho has scored more Premier League goals versus City than against any other team (4) in the competition.
Sadio Mane has had a hand in four goals in his last three Premier League appearances against City (three goals, one assist), including a hat-trick for Southampton in May 2016.
Sergio Aguero has found the back of the net in all four of his Premier League games versus Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium (four goals).
Aguero has scored 10+ goals in all six of his Premier League seasons. No player has scored 10+ goals in every season they have played in as often as the Argentine - the next highest is Eric Cantona, who scored 10+ goals in all five of his Premier League seasons as a player.
Liverpool are unbeaten in their nine games against sides currently in the top six of the Premier League table this season (W5 D4 L0).
These two sides have averaged the most distance run in the Premier League this season: Liverpool (117.3km per game) and City (114.8km per game).
Jurgen Klopp has won five times against Pep Guardiola in all competitions (including one penalty shootout victory) - this is more than any other manager has collected against the Spaniard.
This will be a hard game. I remember last year Liverpool went there and dismantled them and ripped them apart. And I think City's Champions League exit at the hands of Monaco on Wednesday was a major blow, but I cannot see anything other than goals in this game.
I think it will be a very high-scoring football match and I am going to go 3-2 to City - I am just going to go with home advantage here, that is all I can really go on.
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-2 (20/1 with Sky Bet)
Both sides are odds-on for a top-four finish, while the Reds are 13/8 to finish above their hosts.
Aguero heads the first goalscorer betting at 7/2, half the price of the Reds' main threats Firmino and Mane (both 7/1).