Here, we look at the tactics Sky Blues boss Pep Guardiola should consider at Anfield.
CREATE THE OVERLAP
It’s a regular sight for all City watchers.
The ball is worked out wide, a winger or full-back rolls the ball across and either a striker or advancing midfielder strokes the low centre home. Simple, but so, so effective – just ask Hoffenheim and Brighton in the last week, alone.
Against Liverpool, this approach gains greater relevance. In alternating fashion, one of either Trent Alexander-Arnold or Andy Robertson will bomb on – leaving enticing space.
Robertson was burned off Napoli’s Jose Callejon to tee up Lorenzo Insigne in midweek to inflict Liverpool’s first loss of the season. The likes of Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker are infinitely capable of doing the same this Sunday.
Guardiola teams are not thought of as set-piece specialists.
But a study of the 2017/18 corner statistics in the Premier League places them joint second with eight goals, just one behind leaders Bournemouth and Arsenal.
Liverpool’s weakness in this area has largely been cured by January’s addition of the statuesque Virgil van Dijk. But with fine margins likely to define the contest at Anfield plus a potential return after nearly two months out for dead-ball master Kevin De Bruyne, this could be a profitable avenue for the champions.
Centre-back Aymeric Laporte has looked a constant danger at attacking these deliveries, as his goal at Wolverhampton Wanderers shows.
Here, we look at the tactics Reds boss Jurgen Klopp should consider at Anfield.
MASTERS OF TRANSITION
Expect an old friend to be brought back by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp this weekend.
The German has turned down his famous ‘gegenpress’ this term. Rather than using physical intensity to make opponents crack, a psychological superiority/inferiority complex has been at play.
Sheer weight of talent, however, will not unsettle City’s superstars.
Research by The Times this weekend showed that from Liverpool’s nine goals against the Blues last term, they held the ball a maximum 14 seconds.
The onus moves to making counter-attacks as swift as possible. When, for example, Jordan Henderson wins the ball in midfield, City’s attacking shape must be instantly exploited by forward Mohamed Salah and Co.
PRESSURE THE DEFENCE
Liverpool are experts at turning pressure points to their advantage.
Guardiola didn’t lightly say in Amazon’s ‘All or Nothing’ documentary that “They scare me”, when referencing the Reds. Klopp’s 57-per-cent winning ratio against the iconic Spaniard is unprecedented and this comes from his ability to strike at the heart of an area of strength.
The Catalan’s sides dominate possession and build from the back. Their defenders hold the ball more than other teams, leading to more opportunities for your attackers to win it in advantageous positions.
Goalkeeper Ederson and centre-back Nicolas Otamendi both fell victim in last term’s Champions League quarter-finals to the hustling attacking trio of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.