Wednesday, April 4 – 7:45p.m Local time – Anfield, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Liverpool will draw a line in the sand when they play host to Manchester City for the first leg of the quarter-final of the UEFA Champions League.
Both Liverpool and Manchester City warmed up nicely for the crucial European encounter with wins that will undoubtedly set the tone for a season-defining run of matches over the next ten days.
The Reds survived an early scare at Selhurst Park to register a sensational 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, while Pep Guardiola’s side drew closer to securing the Premier League crown with a 3-1 win away to Everton.
Luka Milivojevic converted neatly from the spot to hand Palace the lead after keeper Loris Karius brought down former Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha in the area.
Sadio Mane restored parity right after the interval when the Senegal international connected with James Milner’s cross to send the ball flying into the back of the net. Then the man of the moment, Mohamed Salah, secured a last-gasp winner that momentarily hoisted Liverpool to second on the log.
A 3-1 win may seem routine and all the more expected, seeing as Manchester City have been bullish and overbearing in the Premier League this campaign, but it was Guardiola’s first victory over the Toffees in four attempts.
The Manchester City gaffer was keen to iron out the folds after last season’s casual approach saw his side mauled 4-0 at Goodison Park. As such, it was no surprise when the visitors staked a claim to the match with a Leroy Sane volley after just four minutes.
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Clearly unsettled by the early goal, the hosts crumbled under pressure as Gabriel’s header and Raheem Sterling’s near-effortless finish had them in cruised control at the break. Ederson was well-beaten after Yannick Bolasie’s 20-yard strike went over the line via the post, but there was no stopping the Citizens in their tracks.
The win cemented City’s hold on the Premier League title, only needing a victory over Manchester United this weekend to secure the crown. Even so, the Manchester City boss admitted to prioritizing the Champions League tie, and rightly so, despite having view of the Manchester derby out of the corner of his eye.
City have been compelling to watch over the course of the season having espoused the benefits of Guardiola’s holistic attacking approach that, more often than not, yields right from the back.
But for all their surefootedness and lavishly talented depth in squad, Manchester City’s defeat, their only League defeat of the campaign, came in a seven goal thriller against Liverpool in January.
The 4-3 loss at Anfield is the only stain in Pep’s apparel, one which the decorated Spaniard has certainly learnt from.
Jurgen Klopp’s charges have the second best goal scoring record in the League behind Manchester City, which tells the whole story of the attacking threat of both sides.
Although the 50-year old has yet to taste Champions League success, his closest coming as a loss to Bayern Munich in an all German European final in 2013, the former Borussia Dortmund boss has promised to unleash fury in front of an emotionally charged Anfield crowd.
Klopp is sanguine Emre Can may be available for selection after the 24-year old missed the trip to Crystal Palace with a back problem, but the Liverpool manager will definitely have to make do without Joe Gomez who is out with an ankle injury.
Adam Lallana likewise remains sidelined for the Reds with an ankle injury, having no specific return date set since the extent of his injury has yet to be established.
Sergio Aguero, John Stones and Fabian Delph could return to the pecking order for Manchester City, while Benjamin Mendy is ruled out with a knee injury.
Mohamed Salah odds and specials
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Mohamed Salah has shown flashes of his best form this season with graceful dribbling and some ruthless, decisive finishing. The Egyptian has been directly involved in a staggering 47 goals in all competitions this season, scoring 37 and providing 10.
He currently leads the Premier League charts with 29 goals, five more than Harry Kane in second, and should once again come up with the goods for Liverpool.
Liverpool vs. Manchester City match prediction
Liverpool and Manchester City topped Groups E and F respectively, before winning by daylight as they scored a cumulative 10 goals across both legs in the Champions League round of 16.
Although the Reds have their fair share of loose ends, they can always count on the attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
For City however, their multifaceted attacking approach and imperious run of form makes them slightly sharper than their opponents.
Liverpool vs. Manchester City recent results
Liverpool 4-3 Man City (January 14, 2018)
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 9′
Roberto Firmino 59′
Sadio Mane 61′
Mohamed Salah 68′
Leroy Sane 40′
Bernardo Silva 84′
Ilkay Gundogan 90’+1
Man City 5-0 Liverpool (September 9, 2017)
Sergio Aguero 24′
Gabriel 45’+6, 53′
Leroy Sane 77′, 90’+1
Man City 1-1 Liverpool (March 19, 2017)
Sergio Aguero 69′
James Milner 51′ (P)
Liverpool 1-0 Man City (December 31, 2016)
Georginio Wijnaldum 8′
Liverpool 3-0 Man City (March 2, 2016)
Adam Lallana 31′
James Milner 41′
Roberto Firmino 57′
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