It has been a mercifully quiet couple of weeks in Liverpool, and we say mercifully because the transfer window has closed and Philippe Coutinho remains, for the time being at least, a Red.
How long that remains the case is yet to be seen, but Jurgen Klopp must now set about the task of reintegrating the Brazilian back into his first team squad.
Towards the tail-end of last season he was a revelation in the ‘number eight’ role, orchestrating manoeuvres from the middle of the pitch. If Klopp believes this to be his best position – particularly with Adam Lallana on the sidelines – then surely it begs the question why on earth did he sign Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?
The £35 million man has already declared that he left Arsenal to play in midfield, but realistically you would have to suggest he is a long way down a pecking order that reads Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Coutinho and Lallana, in no particular order. An embarrassment of riches is one thing, smart business quite the other.
With Henderson installed as club captain and Emre Can in the form of his life, the Ox might just have to wait for his chance in the starting eleven. The added physicality of Wijnaldum will be key in the engine room against Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime – a side that has shown scant regard for defending thus far.
Pep Guardiola has fielded a 3-3-2-2 style formation this term, with three centre halves and wing backs only shielded by a single defensive midfielder, with the likes of David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne given license to roam forward. Against a Liverpool attack in rampant mood thus far, that could be an interesting dynamic for Reds fans to follow.
This is a huge contest so early in the season, and will present both teams with their first real test of the campaign. Who will take the spoils?
Liverpool Team News
There are no new injury concerns for Liverpool, so Jurgen Klopp can sleep easy knowing that his players have not ran into any trouble while on international duty.
Both Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne are long term absentees. Lallana is expected to be out until November with his thigh injury, and it could well be Christmas before Clyne is seen again in a red shirt give the complications of his back complaint.
The good news is that both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez have filled in reliably at right back, while on the left Alberto Moreno and Andrew Robertson have their own battle going on for the left back berth. In goal, Loris Karius seems to be the new teacher’s pet ahead of Simon Mignolet.
Will Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Sevilla have any bearing on selection here? You wouldn’t have thought so, as Klopp will be desperate to continue his side’s momentum. Perhaps the debut of Oxlade-Chamberlain and the return of Coutinho will have to wait until next week.
Manchester City Form
To be honest, Manchester City have done everything as expected of them this term. They’ve beaten Brighton and Bournemouth 2-0 and 2-1 respectively, and dominated the game against Everton only to be scuppered by Kyle Walker’s red card. The match ended 1-1.
So it’s a case of so far, so good for the Citizens, and they will be looking to add another scalp to their fine record at the City of Manchester Stadium come Saturday.
Manchester City vs Liverpool Betting Tips
Realistically, the best bets for this match are any that feature a goals-based connotation. Despite looking more solid at the back, the old demons are never far away at the back for Manchester City – and will be worsened should Vincent Kompany’s reported calf injury not improve. He missed training on Wednesday and is rated as ‘doubtful’ for the game on Saturday.
That raises the spectre of a possible Stones-Otamendi-Mangala back three, and if that’s the case Klopp will be laughing himself to sleep on Friday evening.
But let’s be honest here, Liverpool are far better going forward than they are at the back. Yes, we’ve two clean sheets to our name on domestic duty, but the three goals shipped at Watford and the two against Hoffenheim are representative of the question marks that do still exist in the Reds’ defence.
So the main bet for this Manchester City vs Liverpool clash is Both Teams to Score and Over 2.5 Goals, which is available at the 4/5 mark.
If we’re preaching goals then we need somebody to put the ball in the net. If that is the Manchester City back three as described above, then Liverpool should take most joy down their right hand side, with Eliaquim Mangala woefully short of match time.
Mo Salah will not need asking twice to take advantage, and his price of 9/4 to score anytime is appetising value.