The Premier League is back with a humdinger of a match on Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff when Manchester City and Liverpool clash at the Etihad looking to make a statement of intent against another title contender.
The Blues and the Reds start a busy month of September with Premier League, Champions League and League Cup matches that will require the managers to use their squad depth, which is a reality in both squads. The two clubs made big investments to improve their rosters, but doubts remain in terms of their defensive ability.
What they have in abundance is attacking talent, and that’s why we can expect a truly fantastic game this weekend. City have to win if they want to stay close to Manchester United in the table and prove they can beat the top sides, but Liverpool are without a doubt dangerous enough to get a win at the Etihad.
The starting lineups will be announced an hour before kickoff tomorrow, but we’ve already predicted them here. Take a look!
Pep Guardiola is a fan of rotations and he’ll likely do that with the Champions League opener against Feyenoord just around the corner. Pep can get away with a weaker team in Holland, though, so we’ll likely see his strongest possible team against the Reds.
Éderson will start in goal, with Kyle Walker returning from his suspension starting at right-back and Benjamin Mendy getting the nod at left-back; with the injury to Vincent Kompany ruling him out of this Saturday’s game, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi will play as a center-back duo in a flat back four. The midfield trio will have Fernandinho protecting the defense and linking with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, who will play as the two number 10s.
The front three is the biggest doubt, and with Raheem Sterling suspended it’s really hard to figure out Pep’s choice. Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sané, Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus all have equal chances of starting, but we think Bernardo will be on the bench and Pep will go with the front three he used at the end of last season with Sané on the left, Jesus on the right and Agüero in the middle.
Predicted XI: Éderson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Mendy; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; G.Jesus, Agüero, Sané
Jürgen Klopp will have the same though process as Pep, prioritizing Saturday’s matchup over a manageable Champions League opener at home to Sevilla. Klopp will likely make only one change to the team that destroyed Arsenal two weeks ago, with Trent Alexander-Arnold starting in place of Joe Gomez at the back.
Philippe Coutinho and new signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be available on the bench, but they’re unlikely to replace a front six that has played so well in August. Emre Can, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino have been the most impressive and will be the biggest causes for concern for Pep and the Blues, but Klopp can also bring danger from the bench in the second half.
Predicted XI: Mignolet; Alexander, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Can; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Manchester City (5-3-2):
Éderson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Mendy, Danilo; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Agüero, G.Jesus
Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Klavan, Moreno; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané