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Weblog: The football punter

Man City can avoid defeat at Liverpool

Sky Sports Premier League, 4pm Sunday

It's 22 down and 16 to go in Manchester City's quest to go through the Premier League season unbeaten and of those remaining matches this trip to Liverpool looks as if it could be the most difficult hurdle left to overcome for the runaway leaders.

City have been on the drift to become the first visiting side to win at Anfield this season, such is the respect for Liverpool, but Pep Guardiola's side can survive the wall of noise generated by the Kop to stay on the invincible trail.

A win may prove beyond Guardiola's outfit, but a point would keep them well clear of the chasing pack and on course to match Arsenal's achievement of 2003-04, a 9-2 shot with bet365.

Bookmakers have built up hefty liabilities on City going unbeaten and while they have come close to slipping up, this could be another occasion when the leaders are able to avoid defeat.

Bristol City nearly topped the Citizens in Tuesday's League Cup semi-final first leg until second-half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero goals earned the short-priced favourites a 2-1 win, but the side that Guardiola fielded was far from first choice.

Expect Ederson, Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho, David Silva and Aguero to return to the starting 11, and that will make a huge difference in all areas of the pitch.

Pressing City into mistakes is not so easy when Ederson is spraying passes out from the back like Andrea Pirlo, Walker's pace helps to nullify counter-attacking threats, Silva is a string-puller supreme in midfield and Aguero adds natural goalscoring ability.

Guardiola's side have the title virtually in the bag and are favourites to win the three other competitions too so an unprecedented quadruple tilt must at least be considered an intriguing challenge.

However, City cannot win every game and this is rightly considered a tough assignment. Crystal Palace are the only side to have toppled Liverpool on Merseyside since February last year.

Jurgen Klopp usually gets his side tactically tuned in for fixtures against elite opponents and their 5-0 loss in the reverse fixture had plenty to do with Sadio Mane's unfortunate first-half red card after Liverpool went toe to toe with City in the early exchanges.

Philippe Coutinho's departure allows Klopp to solidify the midfield, which could be handy in a contest of this magnitude, while January arrival Virgil van Dijk is a major improvement on the Reds' other centre-back options.

Liverpool, though, were forced to settle for draws at home to Chelsea and Manchester United so how do they find that something extra needed to see off City, particularly following Coutinho's sale to Barcelona?

Mohamed Salah will fancy his chances against Fabian Delph but if we do see that potential mismatch you can be certain Guardiola will have something prepared to stop the Egyptian walking all over his makeshift left-back.

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Match in Focus

19:30 TODAY BT1

E Frankfurt v F Dusseldorf

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Both teams have scored in each of Frankfurt’s last eight matches
Expert verdict
These are worrying times for Fortuna Dusseldorf, who find themselves joint-last even though six of the opponents they have faced are in the Bundesliga’s bottom half. Eintracht Frankfurt, in contrast, are going well and their last two home matches resulted in 4-1 wins against Hannover and Lazio.