Why Liverpool have best chance of ending Manchester City’s unbeaten domestic run
We are less than halfway through the January transfer window and there have already been major incomings and outgoings at Liverpool. The arrival of Virgil van Dijk from Southampton for £75m was met with a mixture of joy and relief from the club’s supporters, but the departure of Philippe Coutinho has left a Brazilian-maestro-shaped hole in the final third. It remains to be seen whether Liverpool are in the market for a like-for-like replacement who was bought for £8.5m and sold for over £140m, but Jurgen Klopp will have to use what he currently has at his disposal to try to get the better of all-conquering Manchester City this weekend. Pep Guardiola‘s side are unbeaten in their last 30 fixtures in the Premier League, but that is not to say that a Liverpool side minus their former star man cannot end their hopes of being forever known as City’s invincibles.
With a match of this magnitude, any free betting offers could be placed on a number of markets with both teams having quality in abundance and this is a fixture which should guarantee plenty of goals. However, this is a contest where Klopp and his players can show that they are more than just a team who can score half-a-dozen strikes against any opposition and there will probably never be a better time to face the current top-flight leaders. Since December 23, City have registered five wins and a draw in all competitions and only three goals have been conceded during that period, but the manner of some of their recent results suggests that there are chinks in their armour which can be exposed by the Merseyside giants, who will meet high-press with high-press.
In City’s last three away fixtures, they have scored just the two goals and been fortunate to scrape a goalless draw at Crystal Palace due to Ederson‘s last-gasp penalty save. City had enough chances to win that game, but you can say that about any match they play in and home teams are finding more solutions to being able to compete when they welcome the North-West outfit to their own backyard. Liverpool are capable of taking that one step further because while they have shown in the past that they are susceptible to letting in cheap goals at the back, Klopp will not take a backwards step and it may force Guardiola into a re-think about his tactics. Bristol City adopted a similar strategy in midweek and Lee Johnson‘s reward for being adventurous at the Etihad Stadium was forced errors out of Eliaquim Mangala and John Stones, which contributed to the Championship side’s opening goal.
If you take a more in-depth look into the stats, you can also see that a pattern is emerging with when and how City concede their goals. Just six have been conceded over a 10-game period but the majority of them have come during the latter stages of either half. Manchester United scored just before half time, Tottenham Hotspur netted in the closing seconds of the match, Leicester City won and converted a penalty in added-on time, Watford scored and should have been given a penalty in the final 10 minutes at the Etihad Stadium and Bristol City forced those two mistakes out of Mangala and Stones at the end of the first half. Is it a lack of concentration? Is it a misuse of their energy due to the high-pressing? Is it simply a coincidence? Either way, this is a Liverpool side who are capable of scoring goals in quick succession and it can be the difference between another game without defeat for City and losing for the first time in the Premier League since April 5.
Then there’s Liverpool unbeaten run at Anfield to consider. All the talk in the build-up to this game is about how City are near-unbeatable, but Liverpool have not suffered defeat in front of their own supporters since April 23 – just 18 days after City’s last setback at English football’s top tier. Since then, Klopp has witnessed his team play 18 matches with 11 wins and seven draws being registered during that period. When you take into account that Liverpool defeated Manchester City at Anfield just over 12 months ago and City have not won at this ground for 15 years, can you really make Guardiola’s men favourites for this game, despite their results?