It’s fair to say that this triple header of Premier League action this Afternoon is saving the best for last as two Champions League hopefuls go head to head at The Etihad. It’s Manchester City vs Liverpool with 3rd facing 4th but if results go their way it could see the winner move up to 2nd and further enhance their Champions League hopes for next season.
Manchester City will be looking to exact revenge for the defeat to Liverpool that they suffered on New Years Eve, that was not the end to 2016 that manager Pep Guardiola would have wanted and earlier in midweek it would have not been the result he wanted either.
That’s because City were dumped out of the Champions League by Monaco on the away goals rule. It was a number of first that night, City were the first team to score more than 5 across two legs and be knocked out of the competition while it was also the first time that Guardiola had not reached the Quarter Finals of the competition.
After the season started with so much promise due to six straight wins many felt that Guardiola was going to deliver the Premier League title in his debut season but there is the danger that they may end the season without a trophy and that can only be construed as failure by the clubs owners.
It obviously will not be a scenario that sees Guardiola lose his job but this is a squad that needs a big overhaul in the Summer. Come the end of the season the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich would have had more than enough time to decide who will be shown the Etihad exit door.
It was the same process that Jurgen Klopp had last season with Liverpool, after taking the job in October the first season was more about finding out what players the former Borussia Dortmund manager would want to use going forward. It may have only warranted an eight place league placing last season but that’s not to say the season was a total write off.
Twice in knockout cups they were the bridesmaid as they lost in both the Capital One Cup Final to today’s opponents and the Europa League final to Sevilla, but with Klopp carrying out the overhaul process last Summer the squad is in a much better position although you could say still not perfect.
They find themselves 4th in the table with a 5 point advantage over Arsenal in 5th, a win today would see them extend that gap to 8 points and even with Arsenal’s two games in hand it would strengthen Liverpool’s hand in a bid for a top four finish at the end of the season.
Liverpool were one of the few teams to play in last weekend’s curtailed Premier League programme and were in an even smaller select band of teams who managed to pick up all three points. They did have to do it the hard way though as they came from behind to beat Sean Dyche’s Burnley.
It’s three wins out of the last four for Liverpool with the only blip being the miserable defeat to a newly resurgent Leicester at the end of the month. This is a side much removed from the one that was failing to pick up a win in any competition at the start of the calendar year.
Liverpool have had the upper hand in the recent league head to heads winning the last four encounters between the two. Reds fans will be very quick to remember when Klopp announced himself on the domestic scene when he took his side to The Etihad in November 2015 and came away 4-1 winners.
I don’t think it will be anything like that and I think it’s going to be a much tighter game, unfortunately though for Liverpool fans I think that City are going to break this barren run that they have in these head to head encounters and just edge proceedings. I’ll go for a City win but selfishly from a Spurs fan point of view I’d be more than happy with a draw.