Manchester City vs Liverpool
| Thursday, July 2nd |
Premier League | Etihad
8:15PM BST / 3:15PM EST
CAMPIONE CAMPIONE and so on and so forth. For the first time since 1990, Liverpool will take the pitch as league champions, and, rather appropriately, they will do so receiving a guard of honour — to Danny Murhpy’s excessive chagrin — from their nearest rivals, Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s men may be stuck 23 points behind the Reds, and may not have anything to play for this season apart from the Champions League, but they remain one of the most potent teams in Europe, and will undoubtedly look to save face by sticking it to their visitors.
Despite losing to Chelsea last week — in perhaps their weakest showing all season — and despite missing Sergio Aguero to a knee injury and Fernandinho to hilarious handball, the Citizens can call upon a plethora of talent, as should be expected when your squad has been built at the cost of 800 or so million Euros.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Mané, Firmino, Salah
As for Liverpool, there are questions about how they will approach the season run-in, having wrapped up the title with a record seven games to go. Jürgen Klopp has answered those questions quite decisively in interviews, insisting that the Reds will be looking to go on as they have been, attempting to win every game at all costs, but with five subs per game and the bag secured, chances are good that we will get to see some exciting youth players get more minutes than would otherwise be the case.
At any rate, Joël Matip is out for the season with a foot injury, and 2020 Dejan Lovren is a shadow of his calamitous but athletic previous self, so Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are likely to start in central defence, while Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold will look to add to their 20 combined assists for the season.
Midfield sports a clean bill of health, and coming off a week’s rest — even a week that undoubtedly starting with some hard, Klopp can choose freely from Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Even James Milner, who limped off with a hamstring injury against Crystal Palace, should be in contention, having trained normally during the week.
Up top, Xherdan Shaqiri remains unavailable with a persistent calf injury, and as such, the front three that has hunted Pep Guardiola’s dreams for so long looks set to torment the Spaniard once again.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “You cannot defend City if you don’t play an intense game. I think it’s difficult to defend us if you don’t play an intense game. So that already makes clear how this game will be.”
Pep Guardiola: “We have a lot of games, tomorrow we want to make a good performance and take a result and against Southampton to arrive in the best condition for Arsenal.”
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistant referees: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth official: Mike Dean
VAR: Stuart Attwell, Stephen Child
Kickoff is set for 8:15PM GMT/3:15PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.