Liverpool vs Manchester City: Comparing the teams
So, the biggest game of this fledgeling Premier League season upon us. Liverpool vs Manchester City promises to be a real treat for football fans regardless of their affiliation.
City are the reigning champions and rightfully so. Last season they broke numerous records and dominated the English game as no side has for a number of years. Most have them down as a certainty to retain that title this year.
Liverpool will have something to say about that. A superb summer of transfer business, coupled with a strong start to the season, has established them as the chief contenders to the crown.
Last season the meetings between these two proved to be exhilarating, regardless of the competition. This year’s first meeting has added significance. Will City show they have no intention of giving up their crown easily? Will Liverpool answer another big question about their title credentials? They are just two of the question waiting to be answered.
It’s a battle between the Brazilians in the goalkeeping department. Ederson arrived in England last summer with plenty of expectation. It’s fair to say he stood up to it impeccably.
As talented at stopping shots as he is playing 40 yard passes out from the back, the 25-year-old is the epitome of the modern goalkeeper. Guardiola could not have found a more perfect goalkeeper for his team. His superb first year in England only helped to enhance his reputation and growing status as one of the best in the world.
Yet, that is not enough to make him Brazil number one. That honour goes to Liverpool number one Alisson. Signed from Roma in the summer and briefly the most expensive goalkeeper ever, Alisson has quickly impressed at Anfield. In truth that wasn’t hard to do given he was replacing Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet.
Commanding in the box and in the air, he is also a superb shot-stopper. Liverpool will be feeling that it was money well spent. His willingness to play out from the back is another bonus. There have already been several impressive moments from him. His is a star that is continuing to rise.
Winner – Unfortunately for Alisson, this one goes to the City keeper. Ederson proved his quality last year and is established in the league. We’re yet to see if Alisson can live up to that this year. If he does, this will be a far tougher choice in twelve months time.
Unlike the goalkeeper position, the left back spot is an easy debate at this moment in time. Andy Robertson is a clear winner.
The Scotland captain has enjoyed a rapid rise after finally breaking into the first team last season. Since then he has developed into one of the best full-backs in the league.
Robertson is quite literally the epitome of the modern full-back in that he often plays more like a left-winger than a left back. Fortunately, it’s a task he’s extremely good at.
In comparison, Fabian Delph is not a left-back. He has filled in the position superbly since last season but it is not his natural spot in the team. Credit should be given to him for playing so well out of his comfort zone, and becoming a key part of the team last season, but that is all.
Winner – This one is Robertson’s at a canter. His development under Klopp has been exceptional and the fact that Delph would not be in the City team if Benjamin Mendy were not injured just proves he’s the clear winner in this head-to-head.
Last season this one-on-one battle may have been a hard one to call, as surprising as that may sound.
Nicolas Otamendi was in the midst of his best season ever in a City shirt, having quelled numerous doubts about his suitability to Guardiola’s style. After several disappointing years, he was finally showing his abilities.
Virgil Van Dijk, meanwhile, had missed half the season with Southampton through injury. The January transfer window changed all that, however. Since making a world record move to Anfield the Dutchman has done nothing but impress.
His impact on the Liverpool defence has been considerable and his status as the world’s most expensive defender has been well earned. It is his presence in central defence that makes Liverpool title contenders.
Winner – This one goes to the Liverpool man again. The Dutchman is comfortably among the best defenders in the league now. There is also an argument he is among the best, if not the best, in Europe. For those reasons, and plenty more aside, he makes it in ahead of Otamendi.
This is a battle that is interesting for a number of reasons but chiefly because of how similar these players are. Both are central defenders of the modern styling, those that need to be able to defend but also play out from the back.
Both are also considered the future of England’s defence. John Stones has continued to develop under Guardiola and was impressive at times last season. He is, though, a defender who is yet to prove he is good defensively.
The same cannot be said of Joe Gomez. Placed at centre back alongside Van Dijk, the youngster has come on leaps and bounds. So much so there is now very little chance of Dejan Lovren or Joel Matip getting back in.
While his ability on the ball has impressed it is his willingness to do the defensive work that has shone. Not only that but the 21-year-old is naturally gifted in the art of defending.
Winner – Maybe a controversial decision but this one goes to Gomez. The young defender seemingly has the complete skill set. His ability to defend puts him just ahead of Stones. It won’t be long before he’s a regular in England’s defence alongside the City man.
Another fascinating battler between two England players occurs at right back.
For Liverpool, there is Trent Alexander-Arnold, the latest academy graduate to shine in the first team. Last season was a stellar one for the 19-year-old as he shone in the Reds first team, particularly in Europe. He has started this season in a similar vein and for most is now their undisputed first choice right back.
Kyle Walker, meanwhile, has furthered his development under Guardiola to establish himself as one of the best full-backs in Europe.
In a star-studded City line up, he is not out of place and played a key role in both their success and England’s at the World Cup in Russia.
Winner – This one belongs to Walker. He has fully justified his move to the Etihad and is now a star man under Guardiola’s tutelage. In several years time, though, this battle will be one that is much, much closer.
On paper, this is an easy win for Fernandinho but James Milner’s form at the beginning of this campaign muddies the water.
The veteran has impressed from day one this season, rolling back the years to put in several impressive performances in defensive midfield. Without him, Liverpool would not have started the season so strongly.
Fernandinho, however, remains a top class player and is key to how Manchester City plays. It is his nous, positioning and energy that allows the star forward players to shine in this current team.
Without him in midfield City would not be as good. He’s as important to them as Sergio Busquets in Guardiola’s Barcelona team.
Winner – This head to head is as close as it could get. There is very little separating these two players but Fernandinho just edges it.
This is easily the most one-sided head to head in this team. Georginio Wijnaldum is a player with plenty of plus points.
He is energetic, talented and fits well into the system that Klopp employs. He has also impressed on more than one occasion, including getting his first away goal in the Premier League.
Yet, he is not David Silva. There are few players who come close to El Mago. Some may fail to see it but ask 99% of football fans and they will tell you he is world class.
His impressive stats, the key role he plays in this City side and regular 9/10 performances, making him one of the best midfielders in the world.
Winner – This one is an easy victory for Silva. The Spanish midfielder has it all and would walk into any side in the league, never mind Europe. Wijnaldum didn’t stand a chance.
If Naby Keita and Kevin de Bruyne were fit, these two might not find themselves starting this game. They are not, though, and we are forced to pick between them.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson remains a conundrum. There is plenty to like about the midfielder, he is passionate, energetic and undeniably has some talent. But is he good enough to lead England and Liverpool to success? That remains a doubt.
Ilkay Gundogan, meanwhile, is a player of undeniable quality. However, he is also a player whom injuries have taken their toll on. The ability is there still but the sharpness that made him shine at Dortmund earlier in his career is not.
It is why he remains a backup option for City at best and likely to be overtaken in the pecking order by the likes of Phil Foden sooner rather than later.
Winner – This head to head comes down to ability alone and in that regard, Gundogan comes out on top.
The forward lines is where the head to heads on this team get interesting and none more so than on the left wing. Choosing between Sadio Mane and Leroy Sane is a particularly difficult choice.
To say that both are exceptionally talented players would be an extreme understatement. Fast, technical and capable of putting the ball in the back of the net they are a menace to any opposition team.
Mane, in particular, has developed superbly under Klopp and this season, in particular, looks ready to push himself to the next level. That is something he is likely to achieve given his work rate and the effort he puts into improving each season.
Sane, meanwhile, is a player with undeniable talent. He is comfortably among the most talented youngsters in world football. Questions, though, remain about his attitude, a problem that has arisen early on in this campaign.
Winner – On talent alone, there would be no separating these two players. Factor in their respective attitudes, though, and Mane is the clear winner.
As with Mane and Sane, there is not much separating these two players. Both enjoyed fantastic seasons last year and proved many a doubter wrong.
Mohamed Salah’s goalscoring exploits were a sight to behold and worthy of the accolades that came his way come the end of the season. Indeed, he is already struggling to live up to his own high standards.
Raheem Sterling, meanwhile, has picked up where he left off. Last season was his best goalscoring season to date and he appears to be keen to keep improving on it with four goals in six games in the league a testament to that.
It will make for interesting viewing to see which of the pair ends up with more goals by the end of the season.
Winner – Despite Sterling being in better form there are few who would pick him here. It is only a matter of time before Salah rediscovers his form. He is ahead in his development and as a result, wins this matchup.
There are a few managers who wish they had this selection to make. Choosing between Roberto Firmino and Sergio Aguero depends on what you want from your striker.
If you want a man who will run all day, link up the play superbly and be the perfect number false nine then Firmino is your man. He is comfortably the best false nine in Europe.
If you want a man who will guarantee you goals regardless of the game, then Aguero is the striker you plump for. The Argentine is the best finisher in the Premier League and his record puts him up there with the best players in the game.
Come rain or shine he puts the ball in the back of the net. He’s even adapted to fit in with Guardiola’s style and continue scoring goals as a result.
Winner – This one comes down to the man who scores the most and that is undoubtedly Aguero. Every team in the world would have him in their starting XI.