Manchester City building momentum ahead of key Premier League clash with Liverpool

Manchester City have a favourable run of fixtures ahead of their Premier League away game at Liverpool on February 7. Pep Guardiola's side continued their title charge with a 2-0 victory over Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Ilkay Gundogan and his Man City team-mates celebrate against Aston Villa
Image: Ilkay Gundogan and his Man City team-mates celebrate against Aston Villa

Nine wins in a row. Aston Villa gave Manchester City more of a fright than any other side during that run but the streak goes on.

Dean Smith felt the result could easily have gone the other way - and but for a bigger deflection here, a cuter pass there, and the interpretation of a key offside call, City's charge could have stalled in the pouring rain at the Etihad on Wednesday night.

But once again, they found a way to win.

That defence - which has conceded just two goals in those nine victories across all competitions - racked up another clean sheet, with John Stones and Ruben Dias once again superb.

In attack, Kevin De Bruyne's injury didn't stop the flow of the City attacks, with 28 shots unleashed as Bernardo Silva broke the deadlock and Ilkay Gundogan sealed it with a late penalty.

We've seen Guardiola's City teams go on runs like this before - and it has proven to be an ominous sign for the opposition.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City's win over Aston Villa in the Premier League.

City were down in 12th when they last lost, going down 2-0 to Tottenham in November. They finish Wednesday second to Manchester United in the Premier League table but knowing their game in hand would take them top. It's some turn around - and it is going to take something special to stop this roll they're on.

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Inevitably, eyes are drawn to February 7, when City go to Anfield.

Before facing Villa, Guardiola spoke about the relentless nature of the fixture list this season and the quick turnaround between matches - but he will surely have that game against Jurgen Klopp's side in his thoughts.

In two and a half weeks' time, City will head to the home of the defending champions needing to strike a crucial blow in the title race.

Unlike the previous three seasons, Liverpool aren't the only other side in the running, and there are a series of tough tests coming on the heels of that clash with the Reds - but a big performance at Anfield would be some statement from City.

Before then, they have four matches, including three in the Premier League, which they will be heavy favourites to win.

That doesn't mean they will - there is a growing list of upsets in this unpredictable season - but there is a strong chance City will go to Merseyside with even more momentum to their charge, and growing confidence in their title ambitions.

Cheltenham away in the FA Cup on Saturday will be an opportunity to rotate and give the likes of De Bruyne and Kyle Walker, who also went off against Aston Villa, time to recover.

West Brom held City to a draw earlier this season but Guardiola's side are a different beast now and should win at the Hawthorns next Tuesday.

Basement club Sheffield United are next up the following Saturday, before fourth-bottom Burnley the Wednesday ahead of the Liverpool match.

Man City and Liverpool's build up to February 7 clash

Man City fixtures Date Liverpool fixtures Date
- - Burnley (H) January 21
Cheltenham (A) - FA Cup January 23 Man Utd (A) - FA Cup January 24
West Brom (A) January 26 Tottenham (A) January 28
Sheff Utd (H) January 30 West Ham (A) January 31
Burnley (A) February 3 Brighton (H) February 3
Liverpool (A) February 7 Man City (h) February 7

City could hardly ask for a more favourable run-in to their pivotal encounter with Klopp's side.

Opportunities to extend the winning run, opportunities to ease De Bruyne, Walker, Nathan Ake, Aymeric Laporte and the isolating Sergio Aguero back to fitness, and opportunities to put the pressure on United, Liverpool, Leicester, and the other sides trying to keep pace at the top.

They could quite possibly have built up a daunting 20-game unbeaten streak by kick-off on February 7.

In contrast, Liverpool's own build-up to facing City includes a FA Cup game with Manchester United, followed by Premier League games away to Tottenham and West Ham, before a home match with Brighton on the Wednesday before hosting Guardiola's side. It's a tricky fortnight.

As this Premier League season tips into its second half the stakes are rising: the slip-ups will become more costly, the winning runs more important.

City are on a roll and have the opportunity to capitalise…

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