Liverpool’s title defence was dented from the start as talismanic defender Virgil van Dijk was injured in October. Liverpool have gone through 12 different centre-back formations as one-by-one players picked up injuries one after the other. Of the 23 man main squad of Liverpool, only a handful of players remained uninjured or without COVID-19. Their injuries have finally caught up with them and Liverpool are facing the fatigue right now. Manchester City has taken advantage of this and have a 7 point lead over the Reds with a game in hand. Liverpool have their work cut out trying to defend their maiden Premier League title.
It was an inevitable matter and it was only a matter of time of Liverpool’s injuries catching up with them. They soldiered on through it and just when they seemed to have got the better of it, fatigue settled into the team. Players like Andrew Robertson, Gini Wijnaldum, and Roberto Firmino who have played the bulk of Liverpool’s matches without any injury are finally experiencing the symptoms of fatigue. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are suddenly lacking in creativity and opponents have found ways to neutralise Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Over-reliance on the trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have stretched them thin as Diogo Jota is still recovering from injury. Thiago Alcantara is settling into the team while Xherdan Shaqiri is getting more and more minutes to play. But it has to be known that Liverpool haven’t played with their full strength team since Virgil van Dijk’s injury in October. Despite the results, the numerous injuries to the first-teamers have ensured that Liverpool have lost rhythm and team chemistry.
Manchester City has been on an upward surge after suffering a minor crisis and are now getting clean sheets at will. The centre-back pairing of Ruben Dias and John Stones has converted Manchester City into a powerhouse and have not allowed opponents to score. However if there is any team to break that sort of positive, it is Liverpool. Manchester City are 3 points ahead of second place Manchester United and have a game in hand. They have the chance to pull away from the rest of the league as they go into the month of February.
Liverpool: Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Diogo Jota and Naby Keita
Manchester City: Sergio Aguero (COVID-19), Kevin De Bruyne and Nathan Ake
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold; Fabinho; Henderson; Robertson; Wijnaldum; Milner; Thiago; Salah; Firmino; Mane
Manchester City: Ederson; Cancelo; Dias; Stones; Laporte; B Silva; Fernandinho; Gundogan; Mahrez; Jesus; Sterling
Liverpool lost their unbeaten home record to Burnley and suffered a second successive defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion. They will be motivated to avoid a third successive home defeat and try to kick start their attempt to break Chelsea’s home record once again. However in the form that Manchester City is in and the defensive record they possess, it is easier said than done. We predict a 1-1 draw between both teams.