Preview: Manchester City vs. Liverpool

Preview: Manchester City vs. Liverpool

The standout Premier League fixture of gameweek eight sees Manchester City welcome champions Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium in a battle between the top two from the past two seasons.

Man City go into this showdown sitting 10th whereas Liverpool have reassumed their position at the top of the table, but only five points separate the two sides and Man City also boast a game in hand, so victory on Sunday would see them move within striking distance of their title rivals.

The unpredictable nature of the 2020-21 season so far means that this is not quite the top-two battle we have become accustomed to seeing between these two sides in recent years, but they remain the favourites for the Premier League title and, even at this stage of the campaign, Sunday’s match could prove to be important in the race.

Victory for Liverpool would take them eight points clear of the team they usurped as champions last season – a significant gap to make up on a team as consistent as the Reds even with a large portion of the campaign still to play.

By contrast, a home win would make it advantage Man City; they would move to within two points of Jurgen Klopp’s side with a game in hand – not bad considering they have suffered such an uncharacteristically inconsistent start to the season.

Dropped points at Leeds United and West Ham United, as well as their chastening 5-2 home defeat to Leicester City, stand out as poor results, but Liverpool have not been immune to such setbacks either – notably their 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa.

Both teams do seem to be hitting their strides now, though, and those improvements have both stemmed from tightening things up at the back – for Man City that followed the arrival of Ruben Dias, and oddly enough for Liverpool it has followed the loss of Virgil van Dijk.

Man City are unbeaten in eight games across all competitions and have won their last three without conceding, most recently cruising past Olympiacos in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

It is the first time since September of last year that Man City have kept three consecutive clean sheets, while since their 5-2 defeat to Leicester they have only conceded three times in their eight outings.

The flip side of that appears to have been less attacking threat; Man City have only scored nine times in their six league games so far this season, which is their lowest goals-per-game ratio in a campaign since their takeover in 2008.

Indeed, the Citizens have scored exactly once in each of their last four Premier League matches – they last went five consecutive games without netting more than once back in March 2009.

That will come as welcome news to a Liverpool side that has shipped 15 goals already this term – as many as they conceded in their first 26 league games last season and the most they have conceded at this stage of a campaign since 1964-65.