Liverpool versus Manchester City. Red versus Blue. Champions versus the contenders.
This is a match that has been highly anticipated since the fixture lists were announced. After all, Liverpool were touted as the team to challenge the Citizens for the title. And having lost in midweek, the Reds will be looking to make amends with a win over their rivals.
With all eyes on Anfield come Sunday, let us examine the key battles that could determine who strikes the first psychological blow.
Trent vs Sane
Having been recently included in the Golden Boy shortlist, Trent’s year just gets better and better. With his crossing ability and willingness to bomb forward, it’s easy to see why he has become Klopp’s number one choice at right-back. With dead-ball skills to complement, the young Scouser is a dangerous asset for the Reds.
However, like all young players, there’ll be periods where Trent isn’t at the top of his game. And judging by his last few performances, it’s safe to say that he has had a pretty rough week. Against Napoli, his eagerness to venture forward left gaps for Napoli to exploit.
That simply cannot happen against City, especially when they have Sane in the team. Blessed with raw pace and trickery, the young German will happily take advantage of any space left vacated by Trent. With his tendency to step infield and take a swing, he’s a big threat from the left. For that reason, Trent has to curb his attacking instincts to keep Sane at bay.
With Trent coming out tops when the two sides met earlier this year, he’ll be confident he can repeat the trick yet again.
Milner vs David Silva
Though Kevin De Bruyne returned to training earlier this week, the Liverpool game might come too soon for him. As a result, the creative burden will once again rest on the shoulders of David Silva. At 32 years of age, the Spaniard just keeps getting better and better. Even with all of City’s latest imports, Silva is arguably one of Pep’s most important players. Had it not been for his creativity and vision, De Bruyne’s absence might’ve been more keenly felt by Manchenster City.
Task with stopping him will be Silva’s ex-teammate. Another player who ages like fine wine, Milner is arguably one of Liverpool’s standout player for the season so far. Boasting incredible work rate, the Englishman seems to be all over the field at times. This is why it’ll be natural if Milner was to be instructed to man-mark his opposition. By sitting atop of him, Milner will be able to prevent Silva from feeding his teammates, while having the energy to support the attack when the opportunity arises.
With both likely to play on the same flank, the battle between the veterans will likely have a huge outcome on the game.
Firmino vs Fernandinho
A battle of Brazilians. On the Red half there’s a false nine, on the Blue half there’s a no nonsense enforcer. A much underrated member of Pep’s side, Fernandinho is a crucial member to the team. A disciplined and tough tackler, the Brazilian helps the Citizens to maintain possession. However, there’s the odd lapse of concentration, which is where Firmino comes into the picture.
The player that makes Klopp’s geggenpress work, Firmino is the first line of the Reds defence. Though he may not score the largest number of goals, it’s his hard work that enables the likes of Salah and Mane to score. With his tendency to drop deep, it’s natural for him to pressure Fernandinho. Once the City midfielder is dispossessed, Liverpool’s front three will try and have a go at Ederson’s goal.
Playing for one of Europe’s most dangerous sides on the counter, Firmino’s involvement will be key to unlocking Liverpool’s strengths.