Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City welcome newly-crowned Premier League champions Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium for a heavyweight clash on Thursday night.
What was tipped as a potential title-deciding game has now been downgraded to a dead rubber – perhaps more so for the visiting side, who cannot be caught at the top of the table – but it promises to be interesting nonetheless.
City recently secured their place in the FA Cup semi finals but suffered a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge in their last league game, gifting Thursday’s opponents the Premier League title in the process.
City will be without veteran midfielder Fernandinho when Liverpool come to town. The Brazilian will complete his two-match ban after being sent off for deliberate handball against Chelsea.
Sergio Aguero is still unavailable with the knee injury he picked up in the 5-0 thumping of Burnley, while Nicolas Otamendi looks likely to partner Aymeric Laporte at the heart of the defence.
Xherdan Shaqiri has returned to training for the Reds but there are doubts over James Milner’s fitness, while Joel Matip is not expected to feature again this season. Joe Gomez should feature alongside Virgil van Dijk in defence.
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Since the restart, City’s only loss has been the 2-1 defeat at Chelsea, which proved decisive in the Premier League title race.
However, 3-0 and 5-0 thrashings in the league against Arsenal and Burnley, combined with Leicester’s recent drop off, have put City firmly in control of second place and they should secure that spot with ease.
With only two games under their belt since the restart compared to City’s four, Liverpool must continue their form in order to break all the records have their eyes on. The 0-0 draw against Merseyside rivals Everton was a pretty dire game, but the emphatic 4-0 win over Crystal Palace showed the Reds back at their swashbuckling best.
Here’s how the two teams have fared in their last five outings.
Newcastle 0-2 Manchester City (28/6)
Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City (25/6)
Manchester City 5-0 Burnley (22/6)
Manchester City 3-0 Arsenal (17/6)
Manchester United 2-0 Manchester City (8/3)
Liverpool 4-0 Crystal Palace (24/6)
Everton 0-0 Liverpool (21/6)
Liverpool 2-3 Atletico Madrid (11/3)
Liverpool 2-1 Bournemouth (7/3)
Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool (3/3)
Liverpool were crowned Premier League champions last week and Jurgen Klopp’s side will show no sign of slowing down, especially if the manager decides to chase all the records that are there to be broken.
City will want to right some wrongs after their defeat at Chelsea, and what better way to do it than by spoiling Liverpool’s party – even if it’s a week or so too late?
It could be a tight affair for the most part, but expect the Reds to make a real statement by leaving the Etihad with all three points.
Prediction: Manchester City 1-2 Liverpool