All eyes will be on the Etihad Stadium on Sunday as Manchester City go head-to-head with Liverpool in the Premier League.
City head into the weekend in tenth position, five points behind the table-topping Reds having played one game fewer.
Both sides have started to pick up the pace in recent weeks and will be eager to make an early statement in this season’s title race.
The latest Premier League odds rate City as favourites to claim top spot, but that would change if they fail to win this weekend. Read on as we preview the game.
Jesus Boost for City
Gabriel Jesus marked his return from injury with a goal as City beat Olympiakos to maintain their 100% record in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Jesus came off the bench to score City’s second and is now in contention for a place in the starting XI this weekend.
His return is a timely one, particularly with Sergio Aguero unlikely to be back in action until after the international break.
Benjamin Mendy and Fernandinho are also ruled out of Sunday’s clash, but manager Pep Guardiola has no other major injury concerns.
Gabriel Jesus scored 12 minutes into his first game back from injury 🤙 pic.twitter.com/CCKbm7tEnj
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 3, 2020
Jota Pushing for a Start
In-form Diogo Jota pushed his claims for a starting role with a hat-trick in Liverpool’s Champions League match at Atalanta.
The Reds’ front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Firmino has been set in stone for some time now, but Jota is giving manager Jurgen Klopp a welcome headache.
Firmino has been off the pace this season and could be the man to miss out after scoring just once in 10 appearances in all competitions.
Fabio, Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss the game, while Joel Matip, Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Konstantinos Tsimikas are all doubtful.
“I’m playing in the best team in my career so far.”
“Mane and Salah are world-class players. We all know their quality.”
“We did a great game together today.”
Hat-trick hero Diogo Jota reflects on a perfect night in Bergamo 🙌 pic.twitter.com/ot1Ow5se8W
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 3, 2020
Dias Makes a Difference
City’s 5-2 defeat at home to Leicester City at the end of September highlighted just how much they needed to buy a new centre-half.
The signing of Ruben Dias from Benfica followed soon after and the Portuguese star has had a positive impact on the team’s fortunes.
City have conceded just three goals in six matches with Dias in defence, and he is forming a formidable partnership with Aymeric Laporte.
Their biggest test will come this weekend, but if they can snuff out Liverpool’s threat City fans will be dreaming of wrestling the title back from the Reds.
Goals conceded by Man City with Rúben Dias in the side:
1 vs. Leeds United
0 vs. Arsenal
1 vs. FC Porto
1 vs. West Ham
0 vs. Marseille
0 vs. Sheffield United
Solid. 💪 pic.twitter.com/kUJMbprv8V
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 31, 2020
Liverpool Finding a Way to Win
Liverpool’s display at Atalanta was in stark contrast to some of their performances in the Premier League this term.
The reigning champions started the campaign with three successive wins, before being humiliated in a 7-2 rout at Aston Villa.
They drew at Everton in their next game and have since defeated Sheffield United and West Ham United despite falling behind in both games.
They will need to avoid doing the same against City, with Guardiola’s side capable of punishing the Reds if they are not at their best.
Recent Results Favour City
Only one of the last six meetings between the two sides has ended goalless, and this weekend’s fixture is unlikely to be dull.
City have won four of the last six matches against Liverpool and haven’t been beaten at home by the Reds since 2015.
They triumphed 4-0 in their last meeting during July, although Liverpool had already clinched the title by that point.
That result was the third successive time City have won this corresponding fixture, and it would be no surprise to see them enhance that record this weekend.
Defence Still an Issue for Liverpool
While Liverpool are yet to concede a goal in Europe, it has been a different story in the Premier League during the early part of the season. Although still favourites to retain the title, they have run into the usual second-season problems with injuries and resolute opposition.
The Reds have conceded 15 goals in their seven league outings to date and have kept just one clean sheet during that time.
Van Dijk’s absence through injury is a big blow to their hopes of retaining the title and City will be keen to exploit their weaknesses at the Etihad Stadium.
Nathaniel Phillips looked promising against West Ham last weekend, but it will be interesting to see how he fares against City’s attacking players.
City vs Liverpool Prediction: While Liverpool head into the weekend on top of the table, it is fair to say they have been unconvincing in the league this season.
Their defence remains a major cause for concern, and City possess the talent to punish any mistakes they make.
Guardiola’s side have looked much more reliable at the back since the arrival of Dias, and they are a good bet to pick up three points this weekend.
City can be backed at odds of 19/20 to win the game, and that looks to be exceptional value.