We spoke to Manchester City fan and young football blogger of the year Jordan-Luke McDonald about today’s fixture.
You can follow him on Twitter, here: @ByJordanLuke
1) Which Liverpool players do you think get in Manchester City’s starting XI, presuming everybody’s fit?
Perhaps City’s biggest concern this season has been defensively. Despite offensive players occasionally struggling to be at their clinical best, which has often cost City points, defenders making errors has also been one of major contributing factors to unnecessarily dropped points.
Joel Matip has been an incredible signing for Liverpool this term, especially considering the fact that he was acquired on a free transfer and fits perfectly into Klopp’s system. It is no surprise that Liverpool’s defence has looked far more confident and composed with the Cameroon central defender in it and he would improve City’s back four (or three) without a doubt.
Nathaniel Clyne has undergone a recent dip in form, leading some to question his long-term future at Anfield. That, in my eyes, is ludicrous but if Liverpool fans are keen for him to leave, that’s fine – he can come to City. He walks into our team! With ageing fullbacks, the England international is full of pace and offensive threat, and would thrive under Guardiola.
On the other side of defence, former City man James Milner has been exceptional at left back, which is truly testament to his versatility and work ethic. With Aleksandar Kolarov preferred at centre back these days, Milner could potentially sneak in on the left side.
Elsewhere, City’s attack has been imperious and, despite impressive spells from Adam Lallana, Phillipe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, I wouldn’t swap any of City’s stars for them. Sorry!
2) Why do City have such a poor Premier League record against LFC in recent times?
Liverpool have been one of our bogey teams over recent years. To be perfectly honest, I’m not too sure why.
City have had tough times in the past with the likes of Everton, Sunderland and Stoke, but these have since been overcome.
I think City just need a couple of resounding wins against Liverpool to get past the hurdle. Liverpool have been a very good team with very good players for years and, although they have sometimes dropped points against ‘lesser’ opposition, they always make it difficult for the top teams.
3) Does Guardiola’s tactics of playing out from the back and refusing long-balls play into Klopp’s pressing-ideology?
There is actually a slight misconception with Guardiola’s tactics and style that he refuses to play long balls, in my eyes anyway.
Of course, Guardiola wants to maintain possession at all costs and not needlessly concede the ball to the opposition. But we have seen on several occasions this term that Claudio Bravo and Willy Caballero do play long balls in addition to short passes to the feet of defenders.
There is a reason why Guardiola wanted a player who could pinpoint a perfect pass to a teammate in the pockets of midfield with a lofted ball and if the goalkeeper’s distribution is accurate on Sunday, I can see actually being a counter to Liverpool’s high press, as opposed to a weakness, as they will inevitably leave spaces in behind.
4) What constitutes a successful season for City and where is your squad weakest?
Before the season began, many expected City to win the Premier League and progress to the latter stages of the Champions League. Now, securing a second placed league finish and FA Cup glory would be preferable.
In terms of squad weaknesses, defence is the biggest concern. Three of City’s back four are probably required to be replaced. As aforementioned, the ageing fullback options have been a concern for a few campaigns now and they will have to be at their best to stop the likes of the rapid Mane and trickery Coutinho this weekend.
5) From a City perspective, where do you see Liverpool right now? Will we be consistent title rivals while these two managers are at the helm?
I predicted last season that Liverpool would be competing for the league title this seasons. Unfortunately for the Anfield faithful, that has not been the case.
However, most of the big teams except Chelsea have underachieved during this campaign and perhaps next season will be Liverpool’s real time to shine.
To be honest, I expected Klopp to recruit a couple more players in the summer and potentially even in January in order to enhance his side’s potency. I would say that not everyone in Liverpool’s squad is compatible with the high energy, high pressing philosophy that the exuberant German has brought to Merseyside.
Bring in a central defender, a left back, a central midfielder and a striker in the summer transfer window and Liverpool could be a scary side to face. The key to that, of course, is obtaining Champions League football to attract the world’s best stars.
6) Finally, who’s going to win on Sunday, and why?!
Nobody! I predict a 2-2 draw. With goals galore scored for both teams this season and some possible defensive frailties, I can see both teams scoring over 2 goals.
Maybe somebody will nick a 3-2 win but I don’t see a definite winner in this fixture.