- Man City won 10 of their last 12 fixtures in all competitions.
- Liverpool are without a win in four away assignments.
- An average of 3.375 goals hit the net across the last eight meetings between City and Liverpool.
- Both teams scored in four of the last five meetings between the clubs.
Liverpool begin title tour
Having just ended their achingly long 30-year wait for a title, it seems fitting that Liverpool will play their first game as the newly crowned Premier League champions at the home of the team they deposed on Thursday.
The Citizens, certain to be hurting, will have to applaud Liverpool on to the pitch before they attempt to turn them over at the Etihad, however, Pep Guardiola’s charges will be determined to put down a marker with next season’s race for domestic superiority in mind.
With the chance to break numerous Premier League records still open to Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp will likely pass up the opportunity to field some of the club’s more promising young players on Thursday, and that should ensure that the Reds roll out their stars in Manchester this week.
Remarkably, Liverpool will have to end their four-game search for an away victory and an away goal if they are to triumph this week, having drawn one and lost three of their most recent quartet of away assignments in all competitions without rattling the net even once.
City have pride to restore
While Liverpool have taken English football’s top prize this season, Man City are favourites to sweep up all the country’s other major pieces of silverware, and with the Carabao Cup already in the bag, the Citizens took a step closer to retaining the FA Cup with a quarter final win at Newcastle on Sunday.
An ultra-defensive Magpies outfit offered little resistance to Pep Guardiola’s possession hungry team, who marched onto the semi finals thanks to a comfortable 2-0 victory.
That win was City’s 10th in 12 competitive matches, while their only two defeats in 17 run outs at the Etihad were inflicted by their Manchester rivals United.
Guardiola has been keen to publicly press home that he will be prioritising Cup success over Premier League points between now and the end of the 2019/20 season, though the Catalonian will know how big a boost a statement win over Liverpool on Thursday would be for his players’ confidence.
Goals likely at the Etihad
Even without the services of the injured Sergio Aguero, Manchester City’s squad is laden with goal-scoring talent, while Liverpool will arrive at the Etihad with one of the continent’s most fearsome attacking line-ups.
Thursday’s match in Manchester also pits the Premier League’s two most prolific teams this season against each other, while the recent head-to-head history in this high-profile fixture suggests goals are on the menu again.
The last eight heavyweight tussles between Manchester City and Liverpool produced a healthy 3.375 goals per 90 minutes, while both sides made an impact on the scoresheet in four of the most recent five of their skirmishes.
Both City and Liverpool will believe they carry enough attacking weapons in their armoury to out-score the other again this week, and an open contest is expected at the Etihad Stadium as a result.
City’s Premier League fixtures at that venue have already averaged 3.53 goals per game since August – in fact, only Anfield has seen more goals scored in the division than the Etihad this season.
Whatever angle you view it from, Thursday’s tussle screams goals, and that in turn makes the over 2.5 goals and both teams to score combination excellent value at the prices available.
Our correct score prediction tips the Citizens to eventually topple the new Premier League champions 2-1 however. City will be doubly determined to restore some pride with a win this week, and Liverpool’s four-match run without a win on the road points to a vulnerability that the hosts can exploit.
Key Battle – Kevin de Bruyne vs Fabinho
With three goals in four matches since the restart, Belgian superstar Kevin de Bruyne has been in electric form for Manchester City of late, and the 29-year-old with a nose for the big occasion, is one to watch again on Thursday.
As the deepest lying Liverpool midfielder, Fabinho will have to play close attention to de Bruyne’s line penetrating runs and passes, though the Brazilian has the skill set to spoil his opponent’s creativity.
Fabinho showed his own long-range shooting ability against Palace last week with a thunderbolt from distance, and the 26-year-old opened the scoring for Liverpool when they last played City with a similar effort in November.
Manchester City vs Liverpool team news
Experienced Brazilian Fernandinho is suspended for Man City and will miss Thursday’s game, while Sergio Aguero’s absence will also be hard-felt.
Gabriel Jesus is in line to start in the Argentine’s place, though Guardiola could choose to field ex-Liverpool star Raheem Sterling as an unorthodox false nine.
Manchester City predicted line-up: Ederson – Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Mendy – de Bruyne, Rodri, D. Silva – Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling
Liverpool will be without injured duo Xherdan Shaqiri, Joep Matip as well as former City employee James Milner – though none of the three would have expected to start at the Etihad if fit.
Jurgen Klopp is expected to resist the temptation to field some of the club’s younger players this week, so expect to see all of Liverpool’s big hitters.
Liverpool predicted line-up: Alisson – Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson – Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Salah, Mane, Firmino