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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Liverpool should avoid defeat at Man City

Coutinho still sidelined for Reds

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp congratulates Georginio Wijnaldum
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Premier League
Sky Sports Premier League/Main Event, 12.30pm Saturday

Liverpool have proved themselves to be difficult opponents to beat in matches against their fellow Premier League giants and the Reds can once again stand tall at Manchester City.

This has the potential to be the game of the season so far in England featuring two teams blessed with brilliant attacking qualities, although at odds-on City look slightly vulnerable to win the shootout and Liverpool are fancied to at least avoid defeat.

The Reds were unbeaten against teams in the Premier League's big six last season, a sequence which included a narrow 1-0 win over City at Anfield and a much better spectacle in the reverse fixture at the Etihad, where the 1-1 scoreline did not reflect the superb play of both sides.

Jurgen Klopp's men have already shown their liking for big fixtures again this season as they qualified for the Champions League group stages with two playoff wins over Hoffenheim while Arsenal were demolished 4-0 last time out.

Philippe Coutinho remains sidelined but the Brazilian has not been missed.

The front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were all on target in the frantic 3-3 draw at Watford, Mane then grabbed the winner over Crystal Palace before Salah and Firmino notched in the 4-2 success over Hoffenheim at Anfield.

All three plus back-up striker Daniel Sturridge then bagged in the Arsenal romp so the terrific trio are in fine shape and ready to go at a City side missing injured defensive leader Vincent Kompany.

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Man City v Liverpool

Stoke v Man Utd

Arsenal v Bournemouth

Everton v Tottenham

Leicester v Chelsea

Much has been made of Liverpool's own defensive problems and Klopp's lack of rearguard recruitments but Arsenal did not have a shot on target, Palace had one and Watford scored with 75 per cent of their on-target attempts.

No team have allowed fewer shots than Liverpool's 21 in this season's Premier League and the Reds have kept six clean sheets in seven top-flight fixtures either side of the summer break.

That defensive mettle will no doubt be tested by City and particularly the threat posed by Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero.

Jesus particularly impressed in the dramatic 2-1 win over Bournemouth last time out, yet Aguero's home record is worthy of respect - the Argentinian has scored in all five Premier League matches against Liverpool at the Etihad.

That Bournemouth success saw Pep Guardiola's side match Liverpool's start of seven points from a possible nine with four of their five goals coming in the final 20 minutes.

City's domination of possession wears most opponents down eventually and their midfield is the best in the Premier League, but Liverpool are a side full of energy and few teams can match the visitors for lightning-fast counter-attacks.

It should make for a fascinating encounter between two excellent sides and Liverpool can show their own title credentials against the current favourites.

Liverpool or draw double chance
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Team news
Man City
Vincent Kompany has been ruled out and Raheem Sterling is suspended. Kyle Walker is back from a ban.

Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne remain injured and Philippe Coutinho is not fit enough for the bench. Keeper Simon Mignolet will replace Loris Karius and new signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is available. 

Key stat
City won two of 14 matches against their fellow top-seven opponents in all competitions last season.

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No team have allowed fewer shots than Liverpool's 21 in this season's Premier League
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