Reds have their sights set on down­ing City

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

LON­DON: The form ta­ble sug­gests Liver­pool have re­al­is­tic hopes of dis­rupt­ing Manch­ester City’s waltz to­wards the Premier League ti­tle when they meet on Sun­day, al­though they must quickly learn how to cope with­out Philippe Coutinho.

The Brazil­ian play­maker com­pleted a move to Barcelona on Mon­day, mean­ing Juer­gen Klopp’s “fab four” up front is now just a three.

Un­beaten City are 15 points clear at the top of the ta­ble, hav­ing scored more goals than any­body with 64, but fourth-placed Liver­pool come sec­ond on that count with 50.

Klopp’s side are un­beaten in 17 games in all com­pe­ti­tions since they were thrashed 4-1 by Tot­ten­ham on Oc­to­ber 22.

Egyp­tian winger Mo­hamed Salah is set to re­turn from in­jury and he and Sa­dio Mane are likely to play ei­ther side of striker Roberto Firmino.

Al­though Coutinho will no longer be able to pro­vide the trio with am­mu­ni­tion, they still have the speed and guile to trou­ble Pep Guardi­ola’s side at the back.

For­mer Liver­pool mid­fielder Ja­son McA­teer be­lieves the Reds can get at City’s de­fence. “We know Manch­ester City’s qual­ity, we know that they’re run­ning away with (the league) at the minute, but I think, on their day, Liver­pool can match any­body,” McA­teer said.

“They’re so good go­ing for­ward. You’ve got to be (wary) of the at­tack­ing prow­ess that they’ve got but there are ar­eas of weak­ness.

“If you can get in be­tween the lines and at the two cen­tre-halves, which I feel we can, then there are chances and goals there.”

City, how­ever, will look to re­peat their dom­i­nant 5-0 vic­tory over Liver­pool at the Eti­had in Septem­ber, al­though they will be with­out in­jured striker Gabriel Je­sus, who scored a brace that day.

This time they will have Vir­gil van Dijk in their way with the Liver­pool de­fender set to make his Premier League de­but after his move from Southamp­ton.

Van Dijk en­joyed a dra­matic de­but for his new team in the FA Cup, scor­ing late on against Ever­ton to earn Liver­pool a derby vic­tory.

City’s Bel­gian mid­fielder Kevin De Bruyne said his team would just fo­cus on their own per­for­mance.

“We go there to win the game,” he said. “They will have a very strong team and they want to be there for the Cham­pi­ons League (places).

“We just try to do the things that we do well and then we will see what hap­pens.”

Sec­ond-placed Manch­ester United host Stoke City on Mon­day, the visi­tors cur­rently with­out a coach after sack­ing Mark Hughes fol­low­ing their FA Cup de­feat by League Two Coven­try City.

Coach Ed­die Niedzwiecki is in tem­po­rary charge of the team for the trip to Old Traf­ford, with Jose Mour­inho’s side anx­ious to keep ahead of the chas­ing pack be­hind City.

The Por­tuguese has been em­broiled in a war of words with Chelsea coach An­to­nio Conte, whose side host Le­ices­ter City to­mor­row when a vic­tory would see them pro­vi­sion­ally move above United into sec­ond.

Tot­ten­ham host Ever­ton to­mor­row and Arse­nal travel to Bournemouth on Sun­day.

Crys­tal Palace face Burn­ley, Hud­der­s­field meet West Ham United and New­cas­tle United en­ter­tain Swansea City in other week­end matches.

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