Manchester City headed into the season favourites to win the Premier League. Instead, as the end of February nears, they find themselves at the back of the pack amongst contenders, as far behind league leaders Leicester as fifth-place Manchester United are behind them.
As far as Liverpool fullback Nathaniel Clyne is concerned, a big part of the reason why that’s happened is that teams have begun to figure out how to play against City; to nullify their attacking threat. And to date, he’s not sure there’s a side that’s done that better than Liverpool did the last time the two sides played.
"Teams are working out City but I was surprised at how easily we took them apart," said Clyne of Liverpool’s 4-1 victory in November. "We didn’t allow them to play their normal free-flowing game of pass and move. They made mistakes as a result and we capitalised on those mistakes and turned them into goals."
That victory stood out as the high point of new manager Jürgen Klopp’s first month at the club, and though things mostly haven’t measured up since—thanks in part to a lengthy injury list and overloaded schedule—it remains a result that gives both hope and confidence for what his Liverpool side might yet become.
"The team were given their roles and we did them well, pressing high up the pitch which they didn’t like," added the fullback. "The don’t like players rattling around them. Quality players want time on the ball to hurt you and we didn’t give them that. Hopefully we can do the same thing to them in the final."
Both clubs have mid-week action this week complicating their preparations for Sunday’s cup final, with City travelling to Ukraine to take on Dynamo Kyiv today in the Champions League and Liverpool hosting Augsburg in the Europa League tomorrow. Liverpool have less time off but City have further to travel.
City are also in a rough run of form of late, having lost their past three games—to Leicester City and Tottenham in the league and also to Chelsea in the FA Cup. Liverpool are coming off mixed results, with a 6-0 hammering of Aston Villa sandwiched by an FA Cup loss to West Ham and a draw against Augsburg.
Straight out of Sunday’s final, the two sides will face off in the league. Thanks to the prescience of the Premier League’s scheduling computers, Liverpool host City in league action on March 2nd. The game was scheduled for this weekend before the two sides made it to the final and the game was rescheduled.