Liverpool and Manchester City square off on Saturday evening in a game that could have major repercussions for both sides’ respective Premier League title challenges.
Jurgen Klopp’s side, fresh off the back of a comprehensive 4-1 against Stoke, will be looking to finish 2016 unbeaten in the league, while Pep Guardiola’s men, having seen off Hull on Monday, are aiming to leapfrog their opponents into second place and hopefully narrow the gap on leaders Chelsea.
Attack-wise, both sides have been a joy to watch at times – Liverpool are the league’s top scorers this season while Man City began the campaign with ten straight victories in all competitions. However, serious questions have been asked of both defences – particularly in the goalkeeper position – as both look to stay in the race in spite of their backlines rather than because of them.
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)
It’s a sorry state of affairs when Simon Mignolet, a man who was demoted to second choice at his club over the summer, is performing not only better than his replacement, but the £17m goalkeeper Man City also brought in.
With a Whoscored rating of 6.75 and average Squawka score of 14.92, the Belgian international is putting in significantly better displays than the other three goalkeepers ranked. In his defence, he has looked far more competent upon winning his place back from Loris Karius than at any stage last season.
Bravo, meanwhile, has been erratic (at best) since arriving at the Etihad from Barcelona in the summer. Much was made of Pep Guardiola’s decision to replace Joe Hart in the summer, but it has yet to yield the result that would deem the move a success.
Right-Back: Bacary Sagna (Manchester City)
Centre-Back: Joel Matip (Liverpool)
Centre-Back: Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City)
Left-Back: James Milner (Liverpool)
The right-back battle was a pretty close one. Nathaniel Clyne’s work at Liverpool can often go undetected, but he is still a valuable part of the Liverpool engine. However, Bacary Sagna shaded it with a Whoscored rating of 6.95, compared to Clyne’s 6.85. The former Arsenal defender has had to battle with injury problems and Pablo Zabaleta for a starting role this season, but has been impressive when called upon.
At centre-back, meanwhile, Nicolas Otamendi has been miles ahead of £47m summer signing John Stones for Man City, while free transfer Joel Matip has been a rock at the heart of the Liverpool backline. There a bit of a gap between those two (7.6 to 7.16) with Dejan Lovren not far behind.
On the left, James Milner (7.37) has taken to his new position like a duck to water. The 30-year-old has been able to maintain his presence as part of Liverpool’s attack while simultaneously being a fine presence in defence. He scored ahead of Aleksandar Kolarov (7.14) and Gael Clichy (6.98).
Centre Mid: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Centre Mid: Adam Lallana (Liverpool)
Attacking Midfield/Number Ten: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
In Henderson and Lallana, Liverpool have two midfielders that have come on leaps and bounds in the past fifteen or so months under Klopp. The former has completed the most passes of any player in the league this season, while the latter has added goals in a manner that suggests that his overall game and performances this season have made him an early contender for PFA Player of the Year if he keeps this up.
However, Lallana will have a big challenger for that award in the form of Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian international has been a star performer and if Guardiola’s side do bring silverware to the Etihad this season, he will have a major part to play in that.
Right-Wing: Sadio Mané (Liverpool)
Left-Wing: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
Striker: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Liverpool’s attack has been so deadly this season that it was almost a case of a complete Reds whitewash in the front three positions (in fact, Whoscored had rated Roberto Firmino at 7.61, slightly higher than Sergio Aguero’s 7.4). However, Squawka’s ratings, plus Aguero’s better goal return, meant that the Argentine international merited inclusion.
There was much less of a debate to be had on the flanks. Coutinho’s rating (7.85) is higher than £34m signing Sadio Mané’s (7.67) with both ahead of Raheem Sterling (7.33). The Liverpool duo have contributed 10 goals and 12 assists between them, and have been massively important figures in the side’s challenge. Sterling is a much improved player under Guardiola, but is still lagging behind the Anfield pair this year.
Read More About: adam lallana, bacary sagna, james milner, joel matip, jordan henderson, jurgen klopp, kevin de bruyne, Liverpool, Man City, nicolas otamendi, pep guardiola, philippe coutinho, Premier League, Roberto Firmino, sadio mane, sergio aguero, simon mignolet