Guardi­ola will need to put his game face on

CityPress - - Sport - – TEAMtalk Me­dia

Jür­gen Klopp has been handed an­other op­por­tu­nity to put Liver­pool’s ap­petite for the big oc­ca­sion on dis­play as they travel to the Eti­had Sta­dium to­day to take on a Manch­ester City side who will no doubt still be reel­ing from a shock Cham­pi­ons League exit.

The Reds boss has taken more points from the cur­rent Pre­mier League top-six than any other ti­tle con­tender. Only his side’s ten­dency to ca­pit­u­late to weaker op­po­si­tion pre­vents them from ap­ply­ing per­sis­tent pres­sure to league lead­ers Chelsea.

Of the Pre­mier League’s top 10, only West Brom and Stoke have con­ceded more goals than Liver­pool, and the Kop faith­ful will be hop­ing that the re­turn of Joël Matip’s first-choice cen­tre-back part­ner De­jan Lovren will keep a mis­fir­ing Ser­gio Agüero from scor­ing. The Ar­gen­tine has scored only twice in his pre­vi­ous 10 league out­ings.

Pep Guardi­ola’s Ci­ti­zens en­ter the fix­ture at the end of a week of con­trast­ing for­tunes, with Sun­day hav­ing seen them progress to the FA Cup semi­fi­nals after a win over Middlesbrough, be­fore suf­fer­ing a shock­ing Cham­pi­ons League elim­i­na­tion against Monaco on Thurs­day.

A home loss to Liver­pool will see Guardi­ola’s side pushed down to fourth place, a fi­nal po­si­tion that, should it not ac­com­pany a Cup tri­umph, would be re­garded by the am­bi­tious City board and fans as some­what of a dis­ap­point­ment.

Team news is that City are with­out İlkay Gün­doğan and Gabriel Je­sus, while Daniel Stur­ridge, Roberto Firmino and Jor­dan Hen­der­son are the vis­i­tors’ most no­table ab­sen­tees.

At the River­side Sta­dium, 19th-placed Middlesbrough will be des­per­ate to pick up at least a point against Manch­ester United.

José Mour­inho’s side re­main in con­tention for the FA Cup and Europa League, but they would need to im­prove their per­for­mances sig­nif­i­cantly should they wish to con­vert their cur­rent sixth po­si­tion into a Cham­pi­ons League spot.

The Red Devils are with­out Paul Pogba, cap­tain Wayne Rooney and Da­ley Blind, while An­thony Mar­tial’s likely re­turn will bol­ster the vis­i­tors’ de­pleted at­tack­ing op­tions.

Boro, who parted ways with man­ager Ai­tor Karanka, are likely to wel­come back Calum Cham­bers, Daniel Ayala, Ge­orge Friend, Rudy Gest­ede and Bernardo Espinosa.

In north Lon­don, sec­ond-placed Tot­ten­ham wel­come a Southamp­ton side whose re­cent away wins over Wat­ford and Sun­der­land will have done won­ders to lift them out of a mis­er­able run of matches that saw them take only three points out of a pos­si­ble 21.

The hosts are with­out the league’s top scorer Harry Kane; a loss that may not be felt as keenly as some would have ex­pected, given the form of Son He­ung-min. Left-back Danny Rose also re­mains side­lined, while the Saints are with­out Char­lie Austin and Matt Tar­gett.

PHOTO: MATTHEW ASH­TON, AMA / GETTY IMAGES

HEADS UP Emre Can of Liver­pool and Pablo Za­baleta of Manch­ester City

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.