Manchester City return to Premier League action after the international break with a very tough match at home to Liverpool. The Blues and the Reds will no doubt fight for trophies this season, and they’ll be looking to prove their title credentials against each other at the Etihad.
There are a few players who could have a major impact on Saturday’s match, and here they are:
The Brazilian was involved in a negotiation with Barcelona during the entire month of August, with Liverpool rejecting four bids from the Catalan club even though Coutinho handed in a transfer request to express his intent to move to Barça. He missed every competitive match Liverpool had in August with an apparent back injury, which he magically recovered from while playing for Brazil this week.
Coutinho has already returned to Liverpool training and seems to be moving on from the failed Barça move, and he’ll likely be available for Saturday’s match. Whether he starts or comes from the bench, Coutinho will bring major trouble to the City defense with his ability to dribble past players, make accurate passes to find teammates making runs in behind and score some screamers from distance.
With the injury to Vincent Kompany that will keep him out of Saturday’s match, John Stones is the natural replacement to the captain if Pep Guardiola sticks with a back four as he did against AFC Bournemouth, where Stones was on the bench. With the move from Jonny Evans on Deadline Day failing, Stones is the immediate replacement to Kompany, and that’s a worry.
Stones is yet to reach his potential and become the next great English defender we all thought he would be, and while he struggled in the beginning of his City career, he has had some solid performances since the start of 2017. He looked very good in a back three during preseason, but without Kompany he’ll have to lead the defense on his own and prove that he and Nicolas Otamendi can form a strong partnership that will be tested against the most dangerous attacking force in the Premier League.
The former Arsenal man rejected a transfer to Chelsea and moved to Anfield on a £35 million deal last week with the hopes of achieving his career goal of playing in central midfield. The Ox had a great 2017 with Arsenal and comes to Liverpool in the best moment of his career, and he’ll be looking to make a great first impression.
It’s unclear whether he’ll be part of the squad this Saturday, but he’s been playing normally for Arsenal and England and is 100% fit to make his debut as a Red at the Etihad.
The French full-back made his debut at Bournemouth and didn’t go on international duty with France, which allowed him to work with Guardiola for two weeks straight and be physically able to endure the marathon of matches this September. Mendy had a fantastic debut as a Blue and showed he has all the tools to succeed in the Premier League.
Mendy provided great attacking support against the Cherries and will be encouraged to go forward even more in his home debut, but the former Monaco man has showed a few defensive deficiencies and his marking ability will be put to the test against Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah, two of the most dangerous wingers in the Premier League. If he’s able to prove himself on the defensive side, there’s no doubt he can cause Liverpool problems with his powerful runs and crossing ability.