Editor’s Column: Liverpool must counter-attack v Manchester City and take chances when they come

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The two best teams in the country will play each other on Saturday lunchtime, in a match which will see the victor top the Premier League table and put down a marker for the season.

Liverpool have dropped silly points at Luton and Brighton, while being robbed at Spurs, but are still in a very strong position, thanks largely to our unrivalled home form.

Manchester City look ominous. They’re top of the table with their best player Kevin de Bruyne injured, but they have a few top players also racing to get fit for for the blockbuster clash.

Ederson, Rodri and Erling Haaland missed their national teams’ fixtures due to fitness concerns, but no doubt Pep Guardiola was exaggerating the extent of their issues so he could get them a rest before our trip to the Etihad.

Liverpool’s players scored goals and shone during the international break, but played lots of football. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Darwin Nunez, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson, Alexis Mac Allister, Dom Szoboszlai and Diogo Jota all played twice, much to Jurgen Klopp’s likely annoyance.

Hopefully our South Americans will be ready… Nunez, Mac Allister and Alisson all played in the hours of Wednesday morning and will only have one session on Friday before the game.

Tactically, Klopp needs to win the transition battle with City, who are lethal when the ball is turned over. They have pace down the flanks and Jeremy Doku will be hoping to exploit the space Alexander-Arnold leaves at right-back when he drifts into midfield. Haaland is obviously lethal and will be constantly running in behind to exploit a line which will is always high, no matter where or who we’re playing.

City though will also deploy a high-line and our best chance to create chances is by using the pace of Nunez in behind. The Uruguayan is flying at the moment. He scored three times for his country and is oozing confidence. He was Liverpool’s best player last time out versus Brentford, registering an assist and having two goals disallowed. It’s admirable how he’s got over the open-goal miss against Luton, which was a real shocker.

Nunez is extremely fast and physical. Salah’s creativity will provide him opportunities to run, with Trent also capable of putting in longer balls past the defence, too.

It’ll be interesting to see who Klopp picks on the left. Jota has been in better form than Cody Gakpo or Luis Diaz and is the best finisher of the three. He can fight and press, which may be beneficial, but rest assured, all five will feature at some point.

That’s the benefit of having five elite attackers. Klopp is spoiled and our offensive options are potentially the best of any side in Europe. They complement each other well. Diaz needs to return to his swashbuckling, dribbling best, when he loved taking on the right-back and Nunez needs to get better at finishing his easier chances – but there really isn’t much to complain about.

It’ll be interesting who Klopp picks in midfield. Hopefully Curtis Jones will be fit and can take his place alongside Mac Allister and Szoboszlai. That is our best midfield right now. Gravenberch is also hoping to be fit, but whoever Klopp picks will be a slight risk given the intensity of the game and the fact they’re coming off the back off injuries. Wataru Endo simply hasn’t got the pace or ball-retention skills to anchor the midfield against City, while Harvey Elliott has proved himself to be a brilliant sub but not yet a consistent starter.

Kostas Tsimikas will keep his place at left-back, you’d assume, with either Joel Matip or the hopefully returning Ibou Konate alongside van Dijk.

We’ll need the Dutchman at his very best to deal with Haaland’s strength and movement. This season, van Dijk has been the best centre-back in the Premier League and it’s fantastic to see how confident he looks again. At his best, nobody comes close.

As always, we may need Alisson to pull off a few saves in one-on-one situations, as even at our vest best, Klopp’s Liverpool teams always give up a few chances.

It’s going to be a belter. Strap yourselves in, Reds.

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1 Comment

  1. Absolutely not, they must not counter attack, if that means sitting back and absorbing pressure. Klopp only knows how to counter press on the front foot after losing possession. It’s how he has always done it and Chelsea and Arsenal showed that is the best way against City. You sit back, you lose, only Wolves have managed to succeed with that tactic and if you watch that game again, you will see just how fortunate they were.

    Make them start their attacking build ups as far from your goal as possible, that has always been the best tactic against Guardiola teams. Make them have to be even more perfect to get to your goal.

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