13 Jan Liverpool v Manchester City – talking points
Can Liverpool end City’s unbeaten run?
Pep Guardiola’s City have not lost domestically all season and were last beaten in the Premier League on April 5, a run of 30 games. Liverpool’s recent form suggests they have a better chance than most sides of late of ending that sequence. With their much-vaunted attack and high-pressing game, the Reds are unlikely to sit back and that could make for a compelling encounter. Liverpool may be warned, however. The last team to really try to get after City was Tottenham on December 16, and they were swatted aside 4-1. Liverpool also fared badly last time the sides met – losing 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium in September – but City have not won at Anfield since 2003.
Sterling’s Anfield return
Since leaving Liverpool in 2015, Raheem Sterling has enjoyed little good fortune against his old club. He was booed and substituted at half-time on a quiet first return to Anfield in March 2016 while he was also ineffective in that year’s League Cup final. This time the 23-year-old will hope things will be different as he goes back to his old stomping ground in the best form of his career. With just over half of the season gone, Sterling already has 18 goals to his name this term – seven more than his previous best return.
Aguero on song
Sergio Aguero appears to be coming back into form at an important time for City with Gabriel Jesus out injured. Perhaps he is being spurred on by persistent speculation linking the club with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez. The Argentinian, who was being criticised as recently as Christmas for lacking sharpness, has scored four in his last three games and now has 19 for a season in which he became City’s record goalscorer. He has scored six times in 14 games against Liverpool.
Van Dijk league debut
Liverpool’s £75million man Virgil van Dijk is poised to make his Premier League debut for the Reds. His impact has already been impressive, with a debut winner against Everton in the FA Cup. The Dutchman brings leadership, composure and greater defensive ability to to side badly short in those areas. Liverpool look stronger for his arrival.
The game will be Liverpool’s first since the £142million sale of star playmaker Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona. His departure will leave a hole but Jurgen Klopp is not short of other attacking options with Adam Lallana now fit again and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looking to step up. The game will offer clues as to whether the Merseysiders can move on seamlessly.