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Top-of-the-table clash: Title contenders prepare to battle as Liverpool welcome Guardiola's champions to Anfield

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola face off at Anfield in a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash on Sunday.

Liverpool and Man City will do battle at Anfield.
Liverpool and Man City will do battle at Anfield.

SUNDAY WILL SEE the top two teams in the Premier League go head-to-head at Anfield as Liverpool and Manchester City each seek to secure a crucial advantage in the title race as early as October.

Neither side has suffered a single league defeat after seven games with both boasting an impressive, identical record of six wins and one draw after two months of action.

It promises to be a tantalising game in which Pep Guardiola’s men feel they cannot afford to let their perch on top spot slip, especially against a Liverpool side which has been deemed legitimate title contenders from the offset this season.

The Merseyside club have fully justified those claims so far, particularly in their 2-1 win at Wembley against Tottenham, as well as other hard-fought wins on the road against Crystal Palace and Leicester City.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - Premier League - Wembley Stadium Liverpool have conceded just three goals in the Premier League so far this season. Source: Adam Davy

League titles are won by a team’s ability to consistently see off lower-level opposition throughout a long and relentless campaign, but Liverpool’s pulsating 3-2 victory against PSG in the Champions League also demonstrated their ability to slug it out against powerhouse opposition too.

Man City and Liverpool appear to have a lot in common so far this season, making Sunday’s game on Merseyside all the more intriguing. Both teams have enjoyed an impressive opening seven games on the domestic front, and both have also suffered a surprise early blip in their European exploits.

Man City’s Champions League defeat against Lyon two weeks ago seemed to catch everyone by surprise not only because of the result, but also because of how poor Bruno Génésio’s side made the reigning Premier League champions look in front of an Etihad which presented large pockets of empty seats during the 2-1 victory for the Ligue 1 club.

Cardiff City v Manchester City - Premier League - Cardiff City Stadium City are top on goal difference after six wins and one draw in the Premier League this season. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

On Wednesday night Liverpool faced their own European shortcoming — falling 1-0 away to Napoli, thanks to a 90th minute winner from Lorenzo Insigne on a night when Klopp’s men appeared uncharacteristically devoid of forward momentum.

Many have been quick to point out that the defeat in Naples could be due to recent fatigue. Liverpool’s last three games have come against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup, Chelsea in the Premier League, and Napoli in the Champions League — a demanding schedule.

That concern regarding fatigue will need to have been addressed immediately by Klopp and his backroom team ahead of Sunday’s game. Man City will offer little respite and will be keen to take advantage of any sense of weariness or burnout.

Manchester City v Liverpool - Premier League - Etihad Stadium Klopp and Guardiola have enjoyed a competitive rivalry in England and in Germany. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Vincent Kompany admitted that this weekend’s top-of-the table clash will be a game of small margins, reflecting upon the thrilling nature of last seasons’s duels across both the domestic and European fronts.

“I think if you take all four games of last season, including the home [league] game, it’s a game of small margins,” the captain said. “You look at each and every game and there’s not a lot of difference in terms of how the games happened.

“One game we were more efficient and scored five, the other game they scored three in, what, 15 minutes. And that’s how these games seem to go. The margin is so small between both teams and a lot of things happen in a very short period of time. You have to make sure you can control this and be at our best.”

It is fair to say Kompany’s side have not clicked into the electrifying gears they showed en route to their 100 points total last season, but the absence of Kevin De Bruyne has undoubtedly played a large role in that. Reports suggest the Belgian may return in time for Sunday.

Manchester City v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Etihad Stadium Liverpool came out on top in a thrilling Champions League semi-final last season. Source: Nigel French

Around this time last season an early Sadio Mane red card was the key talking point as City ran away 5-0 winners at the Etihad. From there, Liverpool secured an unforgettable 4-3 victory at Anfield before laying waste to Guardiola’s men in the semi-finals of the Champions League 5-1 on aggregate.

Liverpool and City has always been an unmissable fixture on the calendar in recent seasons. Two teams who enjoy fierce attacking football overseen by magnanimous managers who love nothing more than getting one up on the other, it always promises an entertaining affair.

This season, however, the billing carries more weight as each tries to stake individual claim of top spot by inflicting a first Premier League defeat of the season on the other. The champion vs the challenger. Something will have to give.

Premier League fixtures (all games kick-off at 3pm unless stated otherwise)

Friday

Brighton & Hove Albion vs West Ham United (20.00)

Saturday

Burnley vs Huddersfield Town
Crystal Palace vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Leicester City vs Everton
Tottenham Hotspur vs Cardiff City
Watford vs AFC Bournemouth
Manchester United vs Newcastle United (17.30)

Sunday

Fulham vs Arsenal (12.00)
Southampton vs Chelsea FC (14.15)
Liverpool vs Manchester City (16.30) 

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About the author:

Aaron Gallagher

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