03 April 2018

Liverpool v Manchester City 04.04.18

2:45pm ET, live in the US on Fox Sports 2

Last four head-to-head:
4-3 Liverpool (h) 01.14.18
0-5 City (a) 09.09.17
1-1 (a) 03.19.17
1-0 Liverpool (h) 12.31.16

CL results:
Liverpool: 0-0 Porto (h); 5-0 Porto (a); 7-0 Spartak (h); 3-3 Sevilla (a); 3-0 Maribor (h); 7-0 Maribor (a); 1-1 Spartak (a); 2-2 Sevilla (h)
City: 1-2 Basel (h); 4-0 Basel (a); 1-2 Shakhtar (a); 1-0 Feyenoord (h); 4-2 Napoli (a); 2-1 Napoli (h); 2-0 Shakhtar (h); 4-0 Feyenoord (a)

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-1 Palace (a); 5-0 Watford (h); 1-2 United (a)
City: 3-1 Everton (a); 2-0 Stoke (a); 1-2 Basel (h)

Goalscorers (Europe):
Liverpool: Firmino 8; Salah 7; Mané 6; Coutinho 5; Can 3; Alexander-Arnold 2; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sturridge 1
City: Agüero, Sterling 4; Jesus, Stones 3; Gündogan 2; de Bruyne, Otamendi, B Silva 1

Referee: Felix Brych (GER)

Brych did the 3-3 at Sevilla this season. And, much longer ago, the 0-2 at Fiorentina in 2009 and 3-1 v PSV in 2008.

Guess at a line-up:
Trent A-A Lovren van Dijk Robertson
Alex O-C Henderson Milner
Salah Firmino Mané

This isn't the best way to go into a Champions League quarterfinal.

Sure, Liverpool are coming off an encouraging win, one of those battling wins where class narrowly takes it, something we've increasingly seen more of from Liverpool.

But Joe Gomez is still out for a few more weeks. Nat Clyne probably needs more training, or at least a first match back that's not this one. Emre Can isn't over his back injury; Klopp's not wholly ruling him out yet but he pretty much has. Adam Lallana's not necessarily done for the season after a hamstring injury within minutes of coming on against Palace, but it's gonna be a month at best. And now Jöel Matip's definitely done for the season, requiring surgery for a thigh injury picked up on Saturday.

And there are some worries about players who are available. Alexander-Arnold and Lovren up against the pace of Leroy Sané on the left, what will be a similar challenge to Rashford and Zaha in recent weeks. Which two from Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner, and Wijnaldum join Henderson in midfield, and whether that midfield will be combative and dynamic enough in a match like this. Henderson's a yellow card away from suspension as well.

We're gonna need one of those big Anfield noises on big Anfield nights.

But to keep in tune with the previous paragraphs, I worry about that too. It's one thing when you get a European opponent who's never done Anfield before. It could well be another when you get the runaway English league leaders, who play at Anfield at least once a season. That didn't necessarily help Chelsea last decade, but Manchester City saw Anfield in full volume a little less than three months ago, and while they didn't win, they nearly came back from a three-goal deficit.

So, yeah, Manchester City. They're *squints* pretty good. Having all but locked up the title a month or two ago. On pace for a potential record number of both points and goals scored in the league.

City aren't really missing anyone either. Agüero's "doubtful" but likely to be available, as are Laporte, Delph and Stones.

So let's guess Emerson; Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Laporte; de Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Sterling, Agüero, Sané. And shudder a little bit.

In matches that have *mattered*, City have won seven of their last eight. Six of those seven wins came by at least a two-goal margin. The one non-win was an 0-1 loss in the FA Cup, a competition which arguably does not matter when you are on pace to win the league with a record points total and are trying to win the Champions League. The other loss was a 1-2 defeat to Basel after winning the first leg 4-0, a similar situation to Liverpool v Porto the same week.

5-1 Leicester, 4-0 Basel, 3-0 Arsenal, 3-0 Arsenal, 1-0 Chelsea, 2-0 Stoke, 3-1 Everton.

This is a team which will punch you in the face repeatedly. A boot, stamping on a human face – forever.

Which is exactly what Liverpool want to do to you, too.

For all my perpetual worries, Liverpool are, um, kinda good. They've scored bunches too, especially in the Champions League. They beat City a few months back, and should have won by more than the lone goal that they won by. Manchester City haven't beaten Liverpool at Anfield since 2003. There some draws in that streak – five, and a draw wouldn't be a great result tomorrow – but there are also 11 wins, including the last five meetings. It will be very loud in Liverpool tomorrow night.

Manchester City should fear Liverpool as much as Liverpool should fear Manchester City.

These are two of the last eight teams left standing in Europe, after all. Go and prove why.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Real and Bayern are all but through to the semis. Barca will not lose a tie with Roma.

The only real question is who will be the 4th team to join the party.

Let it be Liverpool. Yes?