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Football News: Match Preview - Liverpool v Manchester City

Match Preview - Liverpool v Manchester City
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Liverpool v Manchester City

 

Injuries:

Definitely Out:
Joel Matip - Liverpool
Xherdan Shaqiri - Liverpool
Nathaniel Clyne - Liverpool
Leroy Sane - Manchester City
Oleksandr Zinchenko - Manchester City
Rodrigo Hernandez Cascante - Manchester City
Aymeric Laporte - Manchester City

Doubtful:
Jordan Henderson - Liverpool
David Silva - Manchester City
Ederson Moraes - Manchester City

 

Form:
Liverpool at home played 5, won 5, goals scored 14, goals conceded 5.
Manchester City away played 5, won 4, lost 1, goals scored 15, goals conceded 5.

 

So the game is finally upon us, one that I have heard called a title decider by some, but it is far from that. There is still a long way to go this season and both teams will drop more points along the way. All this game will decide is how big or small the gap is going into the international break.

The big question is, how will the two teams approach the game? Will City look at that gap and go gung ho to win and so reduce the gap? Will they look at it and play within themselves and try to make sure the gap does not get any bigger? Will they even just try and play for a draw? It certainly would not be the first time if the two managers were cautious when facing each other, they do tend to treat each other's teams differently from the rest. Sometimes it can feel like they show each other too much respect. This time it could well be different, as the pressure is all on Pep Guardiola right now and he has already started the mind games in the run up.

Liverpool right now are unbeaten and have a perfect record at home in the league. The defensive solidity from last season does seem to have vanished, though how much of that is down to the changes brought by VAR's introduction is difficult to tell. Last season a player breaking through offside was flagged for offside and the play immediately stopped. This season the play is often allowed to continue in the strange desire to allow VAR to judge as much as possible. Surely the point should be to use it as little as possible? Especially as it is so flawed right now. Are Liverpool being exposed by balls over the top or is it like last year and they are just catching them offside only for no flag to go up this season due to VAR? We will probably never know because no one is actually checking that, play is just allowed to continue.

There is a lot of talk that Liverpool are not playing as well as last season, partly due to those balls in behind, partly due to the defence as a whole looking shaky and partly because they are just not scoring as many as last year. The chances are coming but goals are not coming with the same regularity as before. Yet some things have changed for the better. The goals may not be coming as often, but they are coming, often enough to win almost every game faced and now there are goals coming from the midfield too.

On top of that there is not just the never-say-die attitude, which keeps on going right to the end, but an improved ball movement, moving it quicker and usually more cleverly, to tire out opponents as they are left chasing for most of the game. That is as much responsible for the late goals being scored as the attitude. Teams are coming to shut Liverpool down, to press and harry them and being given a chasing. By the 65th minute, the pressing and harrying has usually gone and they have reverted to a deep-lying hold on tight and hope for the best defence. That is why Liverpool gradually take control of the game and usually dominate the second half of matches.

Man City, on the other hand, are still scoring goals for fun, but their glaring defensive issues are finally being exploited by opponents, resulting in them losing games they expect to win. Usually their defensive tactic to avoid breaks is for Fernandinho to foul someone and break up play, but he has not often played in midfield this season and they are much more open because of it. Added to that, Ederson's weaknesses are being exposed, a great sweeper, a great ball-player, but not a great shotstopper and has been caught out a few times positionally. He has great agility but can often let shots through due to having weak wrists.

Going forward City still look good, but not to the same level as the last two seasons, something that always seems to happen to Pep teams. Usually they have not had any close challengers to them for that to matter in domestic competition, but this time they do not just have to worry about Liverpool, but also Leicester City and Chelsea. A defeat at the hands of Liverpool could see City in 4th place at the end of the weekend. There is a lot more pressure on them than they are used to recently, but they do have a large number of players who are used to those sort of pressures.

Tactically this game will come down to who can get control of the game, the Community Shield between the two saw City control the first half, Liverpool the second. It could be something similar this time round as Liverpool have become well versed in grinding teams down in the first half to take control in the second. City are all about quick ball movement and keeping as much possession as possible, taking risks on the ball to draw opponents in and look to launch it into any spaces left. Liverpool are all about penning opponents back, both on and off the ball, winning the ball as high as possible and then keeping them pressed back as they look to create chances.

For Liverpool the full-backs are key, they offer quality delivery, pace, workrate and are both improving defensively. For City the key is the midfield, can they find the time and space they need to operate to their best effect? Or will both teams end up stifling each other? One thing is for sure, no matter the result, there is still a long way to go in this season and the title will not be over for a while yet.

Written by Tris Burke November 07 2019 12:34:09

 

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