Premier League: Manchester City vs Liverpool preview

Defending Premier League champions Manchester City can get their title challenge back on track, but they will need to inflict Liverpool their first defeat of the season when the two sides clash at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday. The reverse fixture ended with a surprising goalless draw at the end of a match that most neutral fans had expected to be quite spectacular. Last season the two teams have met four times, twice in the Premier League and also twice in the UEFA Champions League quarter finals. Manchester City started that string of matches with a 5-0 Premier League win, but then Liverpool won the reverse fixture 4-3 and also prevailed in both Champions League matches, 3-0 at Anfield and 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City seemed unbeatable in the Premier League until not too long ago, but the 2-0 defeat at Chelsea on December 8 ended their undefeated run and then they lost 3-2 at home against Crystal Palace and 2-1 at Leicester either side of Christmas Day. They did bounce back from those consecutive defeats with a 3-1 victory at Southampton at the end of December, but they will surely need to play a lot better to get all three points against Liverpool. The Reds now have a seven-point advantage over the Citizens, so things could get quite complicated for Pep Guardiola and his men if they lose this game. Fabian Delph is suspended, while Benjamin Mendy and Eliaquim Mangala remain injured.

Liverpool remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League this season, they are at the top of the table and second-placed Tottenham are six points behind. The Reds have won their last nine league matches and conceded just three goals in the process. On the other hand, their goal scoring prowess has not shown any signs of weakness, they defeated Newcastle 4-0 on Boxing Day and then thrashed Arsenal 5-1 three days later. James Milner has returned to training and might make the squad for Thursday's match, but Joel Matip and Joseph Gomez remain out of contention, along with long-term absentee Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Probable line-ups:

Man City: Ederson - Walker, Stones, Kompany, Laporte - B. Silva, Fernandinho, D. Silva - Sterling, Aguero, Sane

Liverpool: Alisson - Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson - Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita - Salah, Firmino, Mane

My prediction: Liverpool to win 2-1, the Reds are in great form and the Citizens are not going through their best phase of the season.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Man City win - 2.05
Draw - 3.90
Liverpool win - 3.50

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