Fans of the Premier League can feel that Christmas has come early this year in the form of a treat of a heavyweight between Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Last season’s stalemate at the Etihad featured a City side that had only Aguero to boast of, while Liverpool looked lacklustre in both attack and defence. Yet all evidence from recent games involving revamped teams suggest that this will be a different kind of spectacle: full of goals, attacking flair, and all-round entertainment.
On paper, Liverpool appear to be the stronger side, with in-form Sadio Mane being handed Player of the Month, and the Egyptian Mo Salah fresh from scoring during international duty alongside the elusive Roberto Firmino.
Mane’s tally of three goals in as many games has made him a nuisance to deal with for any defender- he is supported by an equally talented midfield of Can, Henderson and Wijnaldum; one that is certainly not missing Adam Lallana.
Such a mouthwatering lineup should be dismal enough for Pep, but to add to his woes, he himself is without his key players. City’s top goalscorer Raheem Sterling will sit the game out after that famous (or infamous) red card he picked up for an ‘overzealous’ celebration.
He’ll be joined on the sidelines by his captain, Vincent Kompany, who’s sustained yet another injury – without him, City haven’t won a Premier League game versus the Reds since the 2008/9 season.
The evidence is damning for City, but Pep may have still have some hope in Liverpool’s unpredictable defence, as well as the absence of a certain Brazilian that may be on the players minds.
The early kick-off will be hosted by referee Jon Moss — a man surrounded by controversy after a recent study revealed that he makes more mistakes than any other referee in top-flight football. Let’s hope that it’s the football that makes the headlines and not an awful refereeing decision.
Whilst we may still be in the opening weeks of the season, this could be a pivotal game between two potential title contenders.
Prediction: Liverpool’s attacking prowess will be too much for City, and the Reds will escape with a narrow victory. Expect many goals, attacking flair, and perhaps some late drama for a plot twist.