This weekend will see the most highly-anticipated Premier League fixture take centre stage, as Liverpool host champions Manchester City at Anfield.
As the big game looms both sides still have one game to play in the Champions League. Talk will surely linger as to how both sides recovered from losing positions to win in their last Premier League outing, with neither giving each other the chance to breathe.
The grit and determination from both sides emphasised why they’re the sole Premier League contenders once more. Pep Guardiola’s Citizens managed to seize the initiative last term, but Jürgen Klopp’s Reds could establish a substantial nine-point lead this season should they win against their bitter rivals. In fact, a win for the Reds could potentially leave City sitting in fourth position, should results go against them.
Many will feel that the game is more of an opportunity for City to close the gap and go within three points of the Reds, but realistically a Liverpool win is equally vital in its capacity as a home game. Not only would it extend the lead Klopp’s men have already established, it would also deal City a major psychological blow with respect to confidence, increased pressure and the mathematical mountain that is a nine-point lead.
Obviously, as with any fixture there is always three potential outcomes. Either side can of course win the game, but the possibility of a draw is never too far away. Looking back to last season the game at Anfield ended all square in dramatic circumstances, with Riyad Mahrez missing a late penalty as the game finished 0-0.
A draw this time around wouldn’t be too dramatic for either side particularly. However, there has to be an expectation that a defeat at the Etihad could arise in the reverse fixture. The incredible home form of the Reds is something that must be capitalised upon, particularly the infamous home crowd who will be an undeniable twelfth man in this potential title definer.
Klopp and his current crop of Reds are looking to increase their status as club legends, having already delivered a Champions League trophy. The addition of the clubs first ever Premier League title would cement their legacy. It may not seem too critical to beat their rivals this early in the season, but the chance to shape the outcome of this season shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Manchester City have known defensive vulnerabilities. Extending a lead at this stage is smart, both in anticipation of City’s recovery, and the expectation that they will claw back some of the distance lost to Liverpool.