Match preview: Liverpool vs Manchester City

Liverpool

Sunday’s game between Liverpool and Manchester City may be the biggest hint yet as to who might win the title this season.

The Premier League’s two most offensive sides, and the two teams most tipped to win the title, Liverpool and City, meet at Anfield for a mouthwatering face off.

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Mohamed Salah scored a record 37 Premier League goals last season

Soon come Salah

Player of the year Mohamed Salah has been accused this campaign of not meeting the sky-high standards he set for himself last time round. Some critics are already calling him a one season wonder. He could choose no occasion better than Sunday to prove them wrong. And prove them wrong he will- be it on Sunday, or later on in the season. Salah has only scored one fewer goal this campaign than he managed after as many games last time round.

The number of chances he has been involved in, the quality of his movement on and off the ball in big occasions such as last week’s game against Chelsea and the clash with Spurs before that show that he isn’t far off. It is only the finishing touch which has been missing. The number of chances that have fallen to the Egyptian this season show that it is bad luck more than anything else which has thwarted him so far. Will he reach the goal-scoring heights of last season? It looks to be a question of when, and not if.

Won or lost on the wings?

The movement of Liverpool’s full-back is another feature of Sunday’s game which could prove decisive. Klopp likes his full backs to push up as high as possible. Make no mistake, it is a strategy which has proved successful. Time and again this season and last, the marauding runs of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold have proved a nightmare for opposition defenders.

However, the spaces which Alexander Arnold’s forward runs create in behind Liverpool’s defense were exploited ruthlessly by Eden Hazard last week. OK, so he won’t be facing the premier league’s best player on Sunday. But Manchester City’s starting left winger isn’t exactly short on quality either.

Trent Alexander Arnold could play directly opposite Leroy Sane on Sunday

Indeed, Leroy Sane was one of City’s best players last season. The recent drama he’s faced off the pitch doesn’t seem to have affected him on it. A well-taken goal at Fulham and even better assist at Cardiff last month gave us a glimpse of what Sane can do. His extraordinary assist at Arsenal in February took his tally to 15 for the season. Added to the 10 goals he managed in that campaign, it’s fair to say that Sane will probably give young Alexander Arnold something to think about.

What’s more, the teenaged right back has made his fair share of mistakes in big occasions gone by. He struggled to contain Marcus Rashford at Old Trafford last season. He allowed his compatriot to cut inside, before firing into the bottom corner. Alexander Arnold was caught out of position for both of the goals Liverpool conceded as his side slumped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals.

Alexander Arnold – Learning from his mistakes

Facing the blue half of Manchester a few months later, Alexander Arnold showed us all that he’d learnt his lesson. Last season’s Champions League semi final was the last time he faced the stern test posed by Leroy Sane. And the 19-year-old passed with flying colours. Identified as a weak point, the right-back was constantly targeted by cross field passes aimed at the onrushing Sane in behind him.

But playing with a maturity beyond his years, Alexander Arnold stayed wise to the threat posed by the German winger. Despite being caught out on the first few, the England international came to relish the challenge presented by world class opposition. He played a decisive role in Liverpool’s 3-0 victory. Before that game, Jurgen Klopp asked his Liverpool team for bravery. He’ll want more than that this time around.

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