Manchester City host Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday. Here are some talking points ahead of the eagerly-anticipated clash.
It should be an end-to-end game
Given the philosophies of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, and with such attacking riches on both sides, the clash is certainly a mouth-watering prospect. Liverpool have been impressive so far, playing in a 4-4-3 system with the high intensity Klopp is famed for. Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have been blistering out wide, linking superbly with Roberto Firmino in central attack. Behind them Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum have provided energy and drive. City are still looking for their best formula. They began with both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus up front but just the latter played last time out. Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva are firm fixtures but other options include the pace and width of Leroy Sane and the creativity of Bernardo Silva. Raheem Sterling is suspended.
Defences could struggle
Defence is the weak link for both sides. City began with a back five but reverted to a four-man defence at Bournemouth. They failed to recruit another centre-back in the summer window and the loss of the influential Vincent Kompany through injury is a blow. They generally look vulnerable and goalkeeper Ederson is largely untested. As for Liverpool, Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip are looking increasingly solid but they will face stiffer tests than a lacklustre Arsenal presented. Simon Mignolet, who will return after being rested, remains inconsistent.
Will Aguero play?
Guardiola’s treatment of Sergio Aguero continues to raise eyebrows. Despite Aguero’s lethal finishing ability and remarkable record – now just seven goals short of equalling the club’s record – he is clearly not the first name on the team sheet. Much of this stems from a perception Guardiola wants his central striker to do more off the ball and outside the box. He was left out of the starting line-up at Bournemouth, prompting more speculation about his future. Guardiola repeatedly dismissed suggestions the Argentinian would be sold last season but a belief he may not be completely happy persists.
Will Oxlade-Chamberlain play?
Liverpool’s deadline-day signing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has excited fans but, considering the Reds’ recent performances, there may not be a way straight into the side for him. Like the injured Adam Lallana, disgruntled Philippe Coutinho and slightly marginalised Daniel Sturridge, he may have to wait for his chance.
Will Champions League preparations be a factor?
The game is a big clash of top-four rivals and, if the corresponding fixture last season anything to go by, the pace could be unrelenting. As the game goes on, however, it will be interesting to see if either feel they can ease up in any way, with midweek Champions League outings in mind. City travel to Feyenoord while Liverpool host Sevilla. Both will want to get off to a confident start in their group campaigns.