WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) runs the rule over Sunday’s centre-piece encounter between Manchester City and Liverpool. A shroud of disappointment looms large over Etihad, can the Reds take advantage?
Manchester City v Liverpool | Sunday 16:30 | Sky Sports 1
These two clubs meet harbouring underlying feelings of disappointment. Manchester City were knocked out of the Champions League on Wednesday night after yet another inept defensive display in Europe. Whilst Liverpool are left with just the Premier League to fight for but find themselves 10 points adrift after numerous howlers against bottom half sides.
City’s mood will rightly be much gloomier. This was supposed to be the season that they finally showed their pedigree, steered by Pep Guardiola. In reality, he has not corrected any of their faults, only made their attacking football more pleasing on the eye; which was never the problem in the first place.
Bowing out of the Champions League to Monaco will be seen as a failure, and it is when you look at the money and time City have spent assembling this squad. However, at the same time, the French league leaders were woefully underestimated by most involved in the English game.
As for Liverpool, they overcame Burnley last time out but, as expected, made a typical struggle of edging past a team at home they should on paper beat with their eyes closed.
The Reds went behind early on and found it hard to break down a well-organised Clarets XI. Finding ways to beat teams that surrender the ball has been their downfall but it will please Jürgen Klopp that they did this time round.
It’s pretty hard to look at this fixture and not think of goals. Nine of the last 10 Premier League meetings saw over 2.5 goals land, although the most recent clash on New Year’s Eve was the exception to the rule with Liverpool winning 1-0. The Citizen’s average 1.96 goals per game this season and Liverpool 2.14; meaning we should expect around four goals to be notched this Sunday.
Looking at who might score those goals is tricky. Sergio Aguero has a poor record against Liverpool by his high standards, just four bagged in 15 games against the Merseysiders and a record of W3-D5-L7. He will start up front for the Sky Blues with Gabriel Jesus still side-lined and is 21/20 to score anytime with 888Sport but I’m staying well clear.
The Redmen have won all of their last four league meetings against City now and I fancy them to go close or do so again this weekend. Their record against the top half this season is second to none; after beating Arsenal two weeks ago, they made it 19 points from nine games against their top six rivals. Man City’s isn’t terrible with seven points from six games but it still doesn’t compare.
Top Six Topplers
Liverpool to avoid defeat is paying a pretty penny at 22/23 on the +0.5 Asian Handicap line with BetVictor. Defeats this season have come at the hands of Swansea (twice), Bournemouth, Burnley and Hull but they haven’t lost a single game against a club currently in the top six. I find that mightily impressive.
The shroud of disappointment emanating from their Champions League exit will surely still loom large at Etihad stadium. As well as this, City will play their usual game and that will suit the visitors just fine.
The Reds will find space to exploit that weak defence of Gael Clichy, John Stones, Bacary Sagna and one of Aleksandr Kolarov or Nicolas Otamendi if he returns.
I saw a tweet that really made me giggle about City’s wing backs, “Guardiola is seen as a revolutionary but is using Wenger’s sh*t full backs from 10 years ago”. It couldn’t be truer and I think Liverpool can take advantage of these failings. Liverpool to score 2+ goals is 13/8 with Skybet and screams back me.