Liverpool’s first game following the first international break of the season will be staged at the Etihad Stadium this weekend, as the Reds take on Manchester City in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.
How happy have you been with City’s start to the season?
It’s been a frustrating start, we’ve had what people would consider two easily winnable games and one tough(ish) one.
Whilst it’s been frustrating, there’s been a lot of positivity, especially having full-backs capable of both attacking and even defending. Something that has been positive is our desire to fight until the very end, something that was clearly evident against both Everton and Bournemouth.
Against Brighton, we continued to push against a team that had evidently parked the bus (and you could blame them?), eventually getting the breakthrough late in the second half – this showed our desire to take the three points.
Everton was always an uphill struggle after Kyle Walker’s dismissal and yet the team still piled on the pressure and eventually got the equaliser. Bournemouth, well, we all know what happened there.
After going down, the team didn’t get too downbeat and got the winner in the end – I think this is the main thing for us. Even if we aren’t battering sides… yet… we are fighting to the bitter end and that’s what it takes to be there at the top, taking the points despite not being at your best.
Overall, I’m happy enough. We’ve not hit our peak at all, but there are certainly positive signs and we’ve picked up 7 out of 9 points, and even picked up 2 reds along the way!
Many expect City to win the league this summer having put together an extremely strong squad of players. Do you think that Pep Guardiola is getting the best out of them?
It’s still early days with many of the squad but I have confidence in Pep Guardiola to get the best out of the side. It’s a young side now that is learning every day, steered by Pep and the more senior players in the side.
Personally, I think we’re yet to see the best out of any player under Pep, but I’m going to allow him time on that front and I have confidence that he will use each player where they are most effective. For example, Sterling down the middle, however not Sané as wing-back!
Are you confident heading into this match?
No. We’re playing against Liverpool, how could I ever be confident? I guess I feel a bit better going into this one than I have previously but it’s still impossible to see how this one will go.
Liverpool is always a tough encounter for us and you guys certainly seem to pick up your game against the big boys, so it’s not going to be easy at all.
City will be without Raheem Sterling for this game because of suspension. How big a blow is this and would you say he’s been a good signing since his arrival from Liverpool?
A big blow in my opinion, especially when he was high on confidence and could finally shown Liverpool what they were missing right in front of their eyes. It’s tough to judge his time so far at City, in my view, he’s been good.
He’s regularly performed and receives a lot of unwarranted stick, there are just elements he needs to improve to take himself to the next level. He’s still young, there’s a long way to go, but I’d personally say he was a good signing – cheap compared to today’s market, too! I’m gutted he’s not playing on Saturday.
What’s your predicted team line-up for this one?
How am I supposed to do that? You guys do know we have Pep Guardiola as manager, right?!
I’m going to go with: Ederson, Walker, Kompany (depending on the knock taken on international duty), Otamendi, Mendy; Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Silva; Bernardo, Aguero, Jesus.
How have you rated Liverpool’s start to the season?
I’ll be honest, I’ve not seen that much so far so it’s tough for me to comment, but I think you’ve had a mixed bag. However, I think your side is starting to gel further and that can only be a good thing, Arsenal were dispatched with ease, but you struggled against Watford and Palace.
Overall, from what I have seen, I’d say it’s been quite a steady start and potentially slightly stronger than City’s.
Where do you see Liverpool finishing this season?
I can see them finishing up there, you’re a strong side. The problem is that everyone else appears to be so strong so it’s tough to predict the league this season and I think Liverpool need a way to translate their big match intensity into the ‘lesser’ fixtures to become title contenders. I’m going to go with 5th place.
Which City player should Liverpool be most wary of on Saturday?
Tough to say. I’m going to go with Jesus on this front. He’s not been lethal in front of goal so far this season but he’s always up to something. His movement is top class and he poses a real threat to the opposition.
He has bags of energy and desire, he’s always wanting to make something happen – that’s what makes him such a danger to opposition defences, you can’t allow him any space.
Which Liverpool player are you most worried about facing?
Saido Mané. I think this guy is arguably your best player. Whenever I’ve seen him play he seems to be at the centre of all attacks and is a real danger man – he can cause City some real harm.
It would also be typical that Coutinho recovers from his ‘injury’ in time to play against us and tear us apart, so I guess we’ll have to keep an eye out for that. But for me, your main man is Mané and he’s the one to watch. His hat-trick for Southampton against us also still hurts me.
These matches tend to be very open, with both manager’s encouraging exciting, attacking football. Do you think we can expect the same this time around?
I think it all depends on Klopp. Guardiola won’t sit back, there’s no doubt about that. He’ll be ready to go on the attacking front and it is how Klopp opposes that which will shape the game.
Many teams come to the Etihad and sit back but I can’t see Liverpool wanting to do that. City’s style can leave them somewhat exposed at the back and I feel that Klopp will want to utilise the pace in his side in order to exploit Pep’s system. But overall, yes, I feel like it’ll be a very open and hard fought game.
Your score prediction for Saturday?
I’m always wrong, so it won’t be this. But I’m going to be hopeful (I shouldn’t, never works out) and say 2-1 to City.