Liverpool get the chance to run out as Premier League champions for the first time on Thursday – at the home of previous title winners Manchester City.
The newly-crowned title winners will be determined to put on a show after receiving a guard of honour from Pep Guardiola’s team at the Etihad, while the Citizens will surely be fired up to try and prove the Reds’ 23-point lead over them at the top should not be as big as it is.
Either way, it’s a highly-anticipated meeting of the top two, who can both play with a bit of freedom knowing in terms of the overall season nothing particularly significant is riding on the result.
City Favourites Now Liverpool Have Got Job Done
The match odds have City as favourites and the
1/1* on offer for the home side to win will tempt plenty as there could be an element of Liverpool taking their foot off the gas now that they have completed the job.
Jurgen Klopp made it clear in his pre-match press conference he expects his side to approach the game like they have tackled their previous 31 league assignments this season but everyone at Anfield knows the reality is that this clash – which many were predicting could be a title decider before a ball was kicked in August – is now far less important than anticipated.
Liverpool won the earlier meeting this season in the league between the two 3-1 but at the Etihad their recent record is mixed. City edged it 2-1 last term, which ultimately helped them pip the Reds to the title, and they were 5-0 winners in this game in September 2017. Klopp has led his side to two memorable victories away against the Citizens, though, a stunning 4-1 win in November 2015 way back in the early days of his tenure, and the 2-1 Champions League success in April 2018 which secured a 5-1 quarter-final aggregate win.
Usual Intensity Could be Missing
Tonight’s game will not carry the same tension as any of those occasions and, without fans, the normal intensity that has been a feature of the meetings between the two best teams in the country of late may be reduced a notch.
City usually dominate possession against whoever they play and they will likely enjoy more of the ball again as Klopp will trust his hard-working midfield and solid defence to cope.
Sergio Aguero is missing for the home side through injury and Fernandinho is suspended but Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, who often struggles against his former club, can ask plenty of questions of the champions, who could be forgiven if they’re unable to produce their very best form.
Klopp is expected to resist the urge to rotate his title-winning side too much, but James Milner has returned to training after a hamstring strain and will be keen to feature against his old team.
Mohamed Salah, who has 17 league goals, and Sadio Mane (15), are both still in with a shout of winning the Premier League Golden Boot. The duo should therefore be considered in the anytime scorer market with Salah on offer at
6/4 and Mane
Draw on Cards with Pressure off
With the pressure off both teams, it may transpire they end up cancelling each other out and a draw at 3/1 seems like a plausible outcome. For those looking for more value, 1-1 in the correct score market looks enticing at
*All odds correct at time of writing