The second of two Premier League clashes this afternoon takes us to Anfield and it is fair to say that the best has been saved until last as Liverpool play host to Manchester City with the home side approaching their post Philippe Coutinho era after his move to Barcelona earlier in the month.
Unfortunately for Liverpool they are without Virgil van Dijk through injury and his Premier League debut after his £75m move from Southampton will have to wait. This of course will not be the first time that the Dutch international has appeared in his new red colours.
It was the 26 year old who scored the winner in the F.A. Cup Merseyside derby last weekend with just a handful of minutes remaining on the clock, it was the perfect way for the former Celtic defender to endear himself to his new group of fans.
So Liverpool may well have lost an attacking talent but they finally have the defender they have been craving for so long, the business that the club has done this month has asked two pertinent questions. Those being, was £75m too much to spend and should Coutinho have been sold in January.
Ultimately they are only questions that can be answered come the end of the season when we know where Liverpool finish in the table. Should they finish in the top four then both the expenditure and the sale will be fully justified, if they don’t then the clubs hierarchy will certainly come in for questioning.
But it is not just a race for fourth that Liverpool now find themselves in, they go into today’s game knowing that a win over Manchester City would see them move up to third above a sluggish looking Chelsea, on the other hand defeat would see them slip below Tottenham on goal difference and down to fifth.
So there are certainly high stakes this afternoon as Jurgen Klopp’s men not only look to be the first team to beat Manchester City in the Premier League this season but to also exact some revenge for the 5-0 drubbing that was served to them back in September.
The talking point of that game was the fact that Sadio Mane was sent off for the high boot on Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson but at the same time that unfairly overshadows just how good Pep Guardiola’s men were that afternoon.
And they have only got better since the start of the campaign, admittedly they may not be rolling over teams by the same five or six goal hauls but to keep this Premier League unbeaten run going to 22 games not to mention the very realistic chance of a quadruple is almost awe inspiring.
Those quadruple hopes were in some jeopardy last weekend as Manchester City found themselves behind to Burnley in the F.A. Cup thanks to Ashley Barnes’ first half strike. The former Brighton man had silenced the Etihad crowd as he lashed the ball past Claudio Bravo.
But although it took a while for the City juggernaut to get started they would eventually go through the gears and score four unanswered goals and secure their path to the 4th Round of the competition, while that it is not the only cup scare that they have faced in the past week.
That is because they needed an injury time winner from Sergio Aguero to break Bristol City hearts in the first leg of their Carabao Cup Semi-final clash. They may well have won on the night but the 2-1 scoreline puts the tie in the balance especially with the return leg to follow at Ashton Gate.
You could argue that Bristol City are the only team to have really tested Manchester City as of late, although the fact it was a cup game means that Lee Johnson’s men don’t necessarily have the fear factor that the potential threat of relegation has had for so many of City’s Premier League opponents this season.
A win for Pep Guardiola’s men this afternoon would see them move 18 points clear with their nearest rivals Manchester United not playing until tomorrow night when the Red Devils entertain a currently managerless Stoke City.
Liverpool would love to start the post Philippe Coutinho era with a win to show that they will not miss him and to also solidify their hopes of returning to the Champions League next season, I have a feeling they will get something out of this although I think City’s run stays intact as the two sides play out a draw.