Premier League title contenders Liverpool and Manchester City will both be feeling the need to keep in touch with leaders Chelsea at the top of the table this weekend (5.30pm Saturday, BT Sport 1).
Liverpool took a while to get going against Stoke City on Tuesday evening. The Reds conceded the opening goal to Jon Walters and generally struggling to create clear-cut chances, but once they found their feet Jurgen Klopp’s side were good value for a victory that was given to them after efforts from Adam Lallana (pictured), Roberto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge and an own goal from Giannelli Imbula.
It is an ominous sign for the rest of the division that the Reds were able to make the net ripple on four occasions despite being nowhere near their best, although another sloppy concession after some poor defensive work may have come back to haunt them on another day. There are few teams in Europe more scintillating than Liverpool when are in full flow, and even a top side like Manchester City could struggle to contain them if they are able to build up a head of steam at the weekend. When this match preview reaches its concluding betting tips that is a factor we should not forget.
City were also victorious the last time they took to the field, getting the better of Hull City by three goals to nil at the KCOM Stadium. Pep Guardiola’s charges were largely flat for much of the first 70 minutes on Boxing Day, but a clumsy challenge from Andrew Robertson in the penalty box proved to be the turning point that allowed the visitors to ease to victory once Yaya Toure had converted from the spot to give them the lead.
Man City have responded well after back-to-back defeats by Chelsea and Leicester City earlier this month, with nine points taken from clashes with Watford, Arsenal and Hull, but they may have already given themselves too much to do in terms of the title, as the Premier League betting is beginning to suggest.
Liverpool will hope to have Philippe Coutinho and Joel Matip back in action after the pair’s recent injuries, but Danny Ings remains out with a knee problem. Coutinho is arguably Liverpool’s best player but it will be interesting to see whether he returns to the starting XI or has to make do with a place on the substitutes’ bench. Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Firmino have been working well as a front three and Klopp may be loath to disrupt them, although Coutinho’s fitness levels will be the most decisive factor in determining whether he begins the match on the pitch or not. Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and Lallana will continue in a three-man midfield, with Dejan Lovren set to partner Matip in the heart of the backline.
For Man City, Sergio Aguero is available for selection once more following his four-game suspension for violent conduct, but John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan, Vincent Kompany and Fabian Delph remain sidelined through injury. Raheem Sterling has been in fine form of late and will be a constant threat against his former employers. Kevin De Bruyne will probably drop into a deeper No.10 role after leading the lime against Hull. At the back, Aleksandar Kolarov will partner Nicolas Otamendi in the absence of Stones and Kompany, with Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy set to continue on either side of the two centre-halves.
Our Preview’s Liverpool v Man City Preview & Betting Tips Verdict
This has the potential to be a thrilling affair, with both teams far stronger going forward than they are at the back. On balance, though, home advantage could be the most decisive factor, which is why backing Liverpool to come out on top is the betting tip that this preview is siding with. In the anytime goalscorer market, Lallana – who has found the back of the net on seven occasions in the Premier League this term – should represent a sensible choice.
So our preview’s Liverpool v Man City betting tips are: