City’s ascension to the top table of Europe is often paralleled with Liverpool’s decline in the papers. Money was the initial reason for the swap in fortunes, but since then Liverpool’s meandering progress has been stunted by the loss of key players and a woeful recruitment policy. Despite the gap in the league and the gap in recent success, Liverpool have beaten the Citizens 3 times in the last 4—including a thumping at the Etihad this season. Pellegrini knows he has already been replaced, that he’s just keeping the seat warm for Guardiola, and he will want to win silverware here and remind everyone of his credentials. He did win the league, after all.
Moreno is arguably the best defender Liverpool have, and he’s not even that good at defending. Rather, it is his willingness to get forward and prove a threat that has drawn attention from the big Spanish clubs. Manchester City do not play with traditional wingers very often and do not rely on wide players to create chances—meaning Moreno should be able to test that left side very effectively. Expect Klopp to use him as an extra man in attack to create width and stretch that wobbly City defence.
Silva’s season has been badly disrupted by injury and the Spaniard has had difficulty finding consistent form. However, a virtuoso performance against Dynamo Kyiv might have convinced his manager to play him in the hole behind the striker. Silva looked back to his deadly, creative best and Liverpool’s potential fielding of Lucas Leiva in defence may prove to be their undoing. This is not the Manchester City side so convincingly beaten last time.
The player signed to such fanfare over the summer is looking more and more comfortable in the English game. Firmino had one of his best games in a Liverpool shirt against Manchester City earlier in the season and Klopp is likely to deploy him in exactly the same position, as a deep lying forward rather than as a midfielder. Vincent Kompany is back though, and partnering Otamendi represents a much tougher challenge.
Well, he may not win the league with Manchester City this season but Sterling has definitely improved as a player since making the move from Anfield. Considering Liverpool’s mixed fortunes so far they can be said to have missed him. With Sturridge injured constantly, Benteke forgetting how to play and Origi suffering from inexperience, Sterling would have been the key player under Klopp. But would his presence have been enough to get Liverpool a little closer to the Champions League places?