Saturday 31st December 2016 – 17.30 – BT Sport 1 HD/ 4K UHD

 

New Year’s Eve is upon us and the late afternoon game is a real treat as 2 teams battling it out for the league this season come head to head. Liverpool are the highest scoring team in the league so far this season with 45 goals.  This means Liverpool have averaged 2.5 goals per game in the league so far and are one of the most exciting teams in the league. Man City themselves are hardly a bore to watch and are the joint 2nd highest scoring team in the league so this match should be full of action.

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Liverpool are in great form and sit 2nd in the league. They’ve only lost 1 in the last 10 games which was in the 4-3 thriller against Bournemouth. Liverpool are unbeaten in 16 league matches at Anfield, winning 10 and drawing 6. They will go into this game full of confidence.

Liverpool have also netted 86 league goals in 2016, their most in a calendar year since scoring 87 goals 31 year’s back in 1985. Liverpool will know if they win against City, their total of 43 points will set a new club Premier League record for most points after 19 matches, beating their best tally of 42 from the 2008-09 season.

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Liverpool also have a good record against City. They have won 4 of their last 5 Premier League games against Manchester City, including the last 3 matches. In fact Manchester City are winless in their last 14 league and cup games away to Liverpool at Anfield which has become a bit of a bogey ground for City. This could be at the back of the mind of the City players which could lead to a cagey start.

Liverpool will hope Adam Lallana continues he’s great form. Adam Lallana has been involved in 13 goals this season, more than any other midfielder in the Premier League this season scoring 7 goals and providing 6 assists.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Philippe Coutinho is recovering well from his ankle injury but expects him to miss next 2 games at least. This means he could make it a return in time for the trip to Old Trafford in mid Jan. Defender Joel Matip also remains on the side-lines for the Reds who has been a big miss for them at the back.

The great news for Man City is super striker Sergio Aguero is available again after serving his four-match suspension.  He has scored 10 goals in his 12 appearances in the league this season and will be a great boost to the team as City look to break this poor record they have at Anfield.

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With that said Sergio Aguero has failed to score in all 7 of his previous appearances at Anfield, 5 of which have come with Manchester City and twice for Atletico Madrid.

City had a wobble recently in the league as they lost 2 in a row against Chelsea and Leicester a few games back, but have since won 3 on the bounce taking them within a point below Liverpool.

City could keep consecutive clean sheets in the league for the first time under Guardiola if they manage to shut Klopp’s Liverpool out. This is easier said than done against the league’s top goal scorers. However one positive for City is Claudio Bravo has kept 2 clean sheets in his last 3 Premier League appearances, the same as he managed in his first 12 games. This could be a sign he is starting to settle in the Premier League.

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Focus could be on ex-Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling as he will look to add to his 5 goals and 3 assists in the league this season. But the bigger threat Liverpool could face is Kevin De Bruyne. De Bruyne has provided a league-high 9 assists this campaign, only 1 short of his final total from last season. With Aguero back in the fold this could be City’s best route for the 3 points.

Pep Guardiola confirmed defender John Stones is in contention after overcoming a knee injury, but Leroy Sane and Vincent Kompany remain on the side-lines.

This is set to be game of the weekend with so many variables that make it such an exciting match. I’d expect goals from both sides but the result will be too close to call.

By Michael Thatcher

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