Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp lock horns once more when Guardiola’s Manchester City take on Klopp’s Liverpool at the Etihad on Saturday (12:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
The two coaches met for the first time in 2013, with Guardiola at the helm of Bayern Munich and Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, and they have squared off a further nine times since. The balance reads fairly evenly: five wins for Klopp (one on penalties), four wins for Guardiola and one draw.
It was Klopp who had the marginal upper hand last season, with Liverpool winning 1-0 at Anfield before securing a 1-1 draw at the Etihad later in the campaign. Those results followed a pattern for both sides. City were reasonably efficient in seeing off lesser teams but didn’t take many points off their direct rivals. Liverpool were excellent against top-quality opposition but sometimes struggled against teams lower down the table.
Saturday’s match will therefore act as an interesting test for City and Guardiola. After a summer in which they laid out north of £200 million on strengthening some of the evidently weaker areas of last season’s squad, there are few excuses to turn to if they don’t improve their record against their direct rivals this time around.
It has not been the most convincing start to the season. Patience was required on the opening day of the campaign away to Brighton, where City had to wait until the 70th minute to go ahead through Sergio Aguero in an eventual 2-0 win. Everton did a solid job of limiting their attack in a 1-1 draw at the Etihad, while they required an injury-time winner from Raheem Sterling to secure victory away at Bournemouth.
Guardiola admitted afterwards that his side had been fortunate to come away with the three points from a match in which they struggled to put moves together in attack and had some nervous moments defensively. It was a pattern that played out a little too often for comfort last season and is something that he knows must be ironed out if his side are to convert consistently excellent underlying statistics into physical silverware this time around.
Klopp will have watched that match and have felt that his side have the tools to cause City problems. With their strong press and trio of rapid and incisive forwards, Liverpool are a consistent handful. They always find things harder against teams who are willing to sit back and form a deep defensive block, but against a team like City they will be very much at home.
Liverpool’s transfer window didn’t turn out entirely as hoped. They failed to bring in a new central defender, while the only way they were able to get the transfer of the impressive RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita over the line was by agreeing to postpone his arrival until next summer. But they were able to successfully hold off strong interest in Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona, while the signing of Mohamed Salah added further rapidity to their attack.
Salah was on the scoresheet in Liverpool’s excellent 4-0 home win over Arsenal prior to the international break. It was a dominant performance, in which his fellow forwards Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane also got on the scoresheet, and one that showed Liverpool at their best after an opening-day draw at Watford and the narrow win over Crystal Palace that followed it.
Matches involving Liverpool and Manchester City were respectively the third and fourth highest scoring fixtures on average in the Premier League last season, but the styles of their two coaches often seem to more or less cancel each other out. Five of the last six meetings between their sides, including both of last season’s encounters, ended with two or less goals.
That is again likely to be the case on Saturday. With fatigue accumulated during the early-season international break also to take into account, a low-scoring draw in which both sides only show glimpses of their underlying quality seems the most probable outcome.
So now we turn to our battle with the sports betting websites, and decide our preview’s betting tips:
Our Preview’s Man City vs Liverpool Betting Tips Verdict
- Back the draw @ 3/1 with Stan James.
- Bet on 2-3 goals on the exact totals goals market @ best odds of 13/10 with SunBets or BetVictor.
Compare Bookies’ Man City vs Liverpool Match Betting Odds