Manchester City have the chance to redeem themselves following on from a disappointing Champions League exit midweek, as they became the first team to ever score five goals in the first leg of a Champions League tie and still not go through, as they host Liverpool at the Etihad. Monaco proved too strong a team to overcome over the two matches, and they will look to bounce back.
Last season the Reds won 4-1 in this fixture, in perhaps the best performance of Jurgen Klopp’s time at the club so far, whilst more recently they won 1-0 at Anfield at the end of December.
Liverpool have had a free week to prepare for this game, but come into the game with numerous injury concerns. Captain Jordan Henderson is still out – although at this stage he is likely to be fit for the Merseyside derby in two weeks – and Daniel Sturridge is too.
Divock Origi has not trained all week, however, and Roberto Firmino is only coming back fully in first team training today. Even if the Brazilian starts – and with very few other options available, he probably will – he is unlikely to last more than an hour.
Ben Woodburn, who this week was called up to Wales’s squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifier against Ireland, is one option, but he is only 17. Firmino will play if at all possible, simply because of his superior experience.
Manchester City, on the other hand, have the opportunity to bring in players like Yaya Toure, who was left on the bench against Monaco. Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan are their only absentees.
This fixture is the latest in the Pep Guardiola versus Jurgen Klopp narrative; both managers are arguably more of a story than their players.
The Liverpool boss was keen to praise his Spanish opponent during his press conference, and complimented his team’s style and quality.
“If you are passive [against Manchester City] you have no chance,” he said.
On whether it is the right time to play the Citizens, Klopp said, “Hopefully! I have no idea… I don’t think they will still be disappointed (about going out to Monaco); they will want to strike back”.
Philippe Coutinho’s form is a big worry for Liverpool. Ever since he came back from injury, he has struggled, looking off the pace more often than not.
“That’s the life for an outstanding football player. When he’s not at 100%, you miss something. His training this week has been perfect,” Klopp said, clearly keen to dismiss such criticism of his star man.
Coutinho will be vital to Liverpool’s chances, and it will take an almighty performance from the Reds to come away with anything.
A point would be an excellent result, and how valuable it would be in the race for the top four.
WHEN DOES THE GAME KICK OFF?
The match starts at 16:30 GMT and is live on Sky Sports.
WHO IS THE REFEREE?
Michael Oliver – only in charge of Liverpool a couple of weeks ago in the defeat at Leicester City, Oliver sees the Reds once again for the match at the Etihad.
Prior to the Leicester game, he had seen Liverpool beat Arsenal (4-3), Swansea (2-1), Watford (6-1) and Stoke (4-1), as well as the 1-1 draw with Manchester United.
This will only be the fourth game he has taken charge of Manchester City: the 1-1 draw with Everton back in October and the 4-2 loss away at Leicester in the Premier League, as well as the 5-0 away victory over West Ham in the FA Cup.
Jurgen Klopp has beaten Pep Guardiola five times (including one penalty shoot-out) in all competitions throughout his career – more than any other manager.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Can, Lallana, Wijnaldum; Mane, Firmino, Coutinho
Manchester City: Caballero; Sagna, Stones, Otamendi, Clichy; Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane
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