With the Premier League looking set to scrap the controversial pay-per-view model for matches after the upcoming International break it had me thinking about what games I would be willing to pay extra for. Sunday’s clash between Man City & Liverpool is one that is most definitely PPV worthy.
Both sides have been a cut above the rest in the previous two campaigns and treated us a couple of classic encounters both domestically and in Europe. This season, however, hasn’t quite started as expected for England’s top two. Man City find themselves sitting mid-table having made their worst start to a campaign under Pep Guardiola’s guidance. A resounding defeat at home to Leicester has raised some familiar concerns about a leaky backline with little cover from midfield, add to this the injuries to Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus which have highlighted the lack of depth right up top.
Liverpool find themselves top of the table coming into this weekend but haven’t yet shown the fluidity we have become accustomed to seeing. They too suffered a heavy defeat, shocked 7-2 by Aston Villa.
Since then, one-goal wins over Sheff Utd and West Ham have been far from vintage. Most concerning for Liverpool, of course, is the serious injury to Virgil Van Dijk, while they’ve won five straight in all competitions without him – this weekend is the real litmus test for a back four without his commanding presence.
Looking ahead to the game itself, City will be boosted by the return of Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian marked his return to action in midweek with a goal and although Ferran Torres has been in fine form centrally in recent weeks he is not the natural poacher that can be relied to get on the end of things inside the box.
Liverpool, of course, will be without Van Dijk and Fabinho. Joel Matip should return but question marks remain over his potential partnership with Joe Gomez. If midweek was anything to go by Liverpool might have shown attack is the best form of defence. The Reds were ruthless as they dismantled a more than capable Atalanta side 5-0. This was Liverpool back to their electric best and I expect to see more of this kind of attacking threat come Sunday. Diogo Jota staked his claim for a starting place with another magnificent individual performance midweek and is sure to be a big threat if he gets the nod on Sunday.
This should be guaranteed. No matter who lines out for both sides here, I expect goals. In their most recent meeting, Guardiola relied on rapid-fire counter-attacks, with Kevin De Bruyne playing an advanced central role to get at the heart of Liverpool’s backline. Expect more of the same here.
Things could quickly descend into an end-to-end shootout – much like City’s second half against Leeds earlier in the Season.
While there is a great deal of respect between these two sides, there is no love lost once they get onto the pitch. The high intensity at which this is likely to be played at should provide plenty of opportunities in the bookings market.
There are a couple of players I like the look of to pick up a booking here: Rodri will be tasked with sitting in and helping stop any quick counters from Liverpool. As we’ve seen now for many years, City are more than happy to commit cynical fouls to slow play down. The game could be set up for the Spaniard to go in the book.
Joe Gomez is another one to watch. Although he hasn’t seen a card so far this season – he topped the Yellow Card charts for Liverpool last year and was tormented by Raheem Sterling the last time these two met. On that occasion Gomez picked up a yellow and was subbed off at half-time, this could be another tough day in the office for him.
My final booking fancy is the one I’m going to go for – Joao Cancelo. He’s picked up two Yellows in four starts for City so far and while comfortable in several positions, he is not a natural left-back. I expect him to start in that role at the weekend and he will be tasked with keeping Mo Salah quiet. In addition, Trent Alexander-Arnold should also get plenty of space down that side too. Sterling isn’t always best at tracking back and could leave Cancelo exposed to a few difficult situations.
For my final selection, I’m not going to sit on the fence (well maybe a little bit) and pick a winner in the match. I wouldn’t be surprised if either side got the three points come the final whistle and wouldn’t put anyone off backing either Red or Blue (much the same as another big match-up during the week!).
I feel, however, there is so much more at stake here for City. Win and they go two points behind Liverpool with a game in hand. Lose and they could feel like they are out of the running already. The extra pressure and fact Liverpool are missing Van Dijk makes me lean ever so slightly to City.
Man City v Liverpool tips
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at time of publication but subject to change
- Paddy’s Acca Insurance is NOT available with the above selections. Acca insurance – where your stake is refunded (up to £/€10) as a free bet – is only applicable in Same Game Multis or accumulators with a minimum of FOUR legs.
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