Jurgen Klopp describes playing Manchester City right after an international break as a “nightmare.”
Former England midfielder Paul Merson believes this. Merson claimed to Sky Sports ahead of Saturday’s meeting between last season’s Premier League top two that neither Jurgen Klopp nor Pep Guardiola will be pleased with the scheduling.
“It’s a nightmare game for both Manchester City and Liverpool so soon after the international break,” the pundit said. “It’s a big game, and it works the same for both teams.”
“Neither manager has the time they would like to work on things ahead of the game, and you also have to wait for the players to return to see who might or might not be fit.” It’s not ideal, and whoever handles the disruption the best may come out on top.
“However, the pressure is on Manchester City.” They simply cannot afford to lose. They can’t even afford to paint.”
Liverpool is in uncharted territory.
Liverpool have a strange feeling heading into Saturday’s match at the Etihad Stadium. The Reds are no strangers to playing City at home in April; it seems to happen every season, which is fine.
But, usually, there’s a little more at stake in the game, at least for Liverpool. On April 10th of last year, the two sides faced off in a top-of-the-table battle.
With only one point separating them, it was billed as a winner-take-all match. In the end, neither team won, and City maintained their point lead until the season’s end.
This time, however, things are very different. Not only are Liverpool far behind their hosts in terms of title contention, but City are also under intense pressure to retain their crown. As Merson points out, a lot is riding on Guardiola and his team. They can’t afford to lose here because they’re already eight points behind Arsenal.
With the onus entirely on their hosts and no title on the line, Liverpool may be able to play with a little more freedom at the Etihad. Despite not being at their best this season, they’ve already demonstrated that they can beat City. The Sky Blues are without Phil Foden and may also be without Erling Haaland.
So, perhaps the timing is right for Liverpool to win at the Etihad for the first time since 2016. All eyes will be on Saturday.