Saturday, April 9, 2022 15:00
Rowsley Street, Central, Manchester, M11 3FF, United Kingdom
Homeground of Manchester City
Manchester City vs Liverpool
This season has thrown up more than a few surprises so far and there is still a long way to go in what promises to be a hotly contested Premier League campaign. In this tie, Pep Guardiola the tactical innovator and serial winner comes up against Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool who look like they are well capable of bringing the title that the Anfield faithful have been pining for for so long.
City could lay claim to being the most dangerous team in the league with the daunting combination of Guardiola and the seemingly bottomless pockets of their owner Sheikh Mansour but a rough patch in September and October proved once again that nothing is guaranteed in the Premier League. Guardiola went on a run that saw his side draw with Celtic, Everton, and Southampton and suffer defeats to Spurs, Barcelona and bitter cross town rivals Manchester United proving that Pep's first foray into the shark tank of English football would not be as easy as some predicted.
Liverpool's first full season under Jurgen Klopp started in scintillating fashion. After joining in October of the 2015/2016 season, Klopp spent his first term fashioning a side willing and able to play his high tempo style of football that won two successive Bundesliga titles for Borussia Dortmund. Liverpool burst out of the blocks with impressive wins over Arsenal and reigning champions Leicester, playing stylish and attacking football that many sides have found impossible to stifle.
This fixture presents an interesting clash of styles and one that will have the armchair tacticians drooling. Pep is known for his maverick choices, something that he became known for during his terms at Barcelona and Bayern when he frequently switched formations, ranging from a classic 4-3-3 to a more experimental 3-1-2-1-3. Still one of the most well known proponents of the tiki taka style of possession based play, his City side seem to have adjusted well to a way of playing that is in stark contrast to his predecessor Manuel Pellegrini. Guardiola made some shrewd buys in the summer, strengthening his defence with John Stones and Ilkay Gundogan and adding guile and pace to his attack with Leroy Sane and former Celta Vigo attacker Nolito.
Liverpool made some useful additions to their squad in the window too, with Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum two of the standout signings. Having had almost a full season to get used to their new manager, Liverpool have a relatively settled team and they have shown signs that they may be serious contenders for the title this year if they can maintain the intensity shown in the first few months of the season.
Klopp's style of gegenpressing, a high tempo, frenetic way of playing that involves Liverpool's players harrying the opposition high up the pitch in the hopes that they will lose composure and turn over possession, will present Pep with a problem. In City's Champions League tie with Celtic we saw how a team that pressed relentlessly unsettled City and the result was an entertaining 3-3 draw that was a joy for the neutrals but hardly the result that City fans would have wanted.
A clash of philosophies and styles, this tie promises to be entertaining and the result is anyone's guess.