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Kevin De Bruyne returns, Mateo Kovacic to start – Predicted XI: Liverpool vs Manchester City (Premier League)



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Manchester City face their toughest test of the season to date as they head to Anfield for a crucial showdown with Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday afternoon.

Pep Guardiola’s side head into the weekend just one point behind Jurgen Klopp’s current league leaders, but the Blues will need to pull off just their second win at Anfield under Pep Guardiola to take command of the Premier league title race.

City should have the advantage of fresh legs having had an extra 24 hours of rest after dispatching FC Copenhagen in the UEFA Champions League last-16. Meanwhile, Liverpool were not on European duty until Thursday, thumping Sparta Prague in the Europa League.

The points were shared in the reverse fixture earlier this season, as Liverpool erased a one-goal deficit to snatch a point at the Etihad Stadium during a stretch in which Manchester City failed to win seven of 10 games.

But the reigning Premier League champions have since turned their fortunes around, having not lost in any competition since a defeat away to Aston Villa on December 6th, winning the FIFA Club World Cup in that 20-match run.

Liverpool, on the other hand, are on a hot-streak of their own, with Jurgen Klopp’s trophy-chasing players only losing one game so far across all competitions since the turn of the year.

The stage is set for another classic showdown between the two Premier League giants, and this is how we predict Pep Guardiola will line-up his side for the final meeting with Jurgen Klopp in the English top-flight.

Predicted XI

Ederson will start in goal, as per standard league procedure for Manchester City.

Kyle Walker will return to the starting line-up at right-back, after being rested against FC Copenhagen in the UEFA Champions League and should play a key role in cleaning up Liverpool’s counter-attacks.

John Stones and Ruben Dias will play alongside each other in the centre of Manchester City’s defence, although the England international will likely step into the defensive midfield role when he and his teammates are in possession.

Nathan Ake should come in at left-back to deal with the returning Mo Salah, with Josko Gvardiol only returning to on-field duties in midweek and regaining his match sharpness and fitness following an ankle ligament injury.

Mateo Kovacic will likely join defensive midfield mainstay Rodri in the centre to help overrun a depleted Liverpool midfield, and the Croatian’s experience in big Premier League games could be very useful.

With no Jack Grealish and potentially no Jeremy Doku, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva will start out-wide for Manchester City. We expect that duo to switch sides often depending on what kind of success they can find up against the Liverpool full-backs.

Kevin De Bruyne returns to the team as usual, and Manchester City will certainly need their superstar to come up with some moments of magic if they are going to win at a place where they haven’t found much success in recent years.

And of course, Erling Haaland will lead the line.

Starting XI: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Ake; Rodri, Kovacic, De Bruyne; Bernardo, Haaland, Foden.

Substitutes: Ortega Moreno, Akanji, Lewis, Gomez, Gvardiol, Nunes, Bobb, Doku, Alvarez.