Liverpool, City Battle for Second Spot at Anfield


There is no doubt that the biggest fixture is the Premier League this weekend is the encounter between second placed Liverpool and third on the log-Manchester City. With Chelsea comfortably leading the log with six points, the Reds and the Citizens will be battling for the second position to put pressure on the league leaders. With both teams easily winning their last two matches, fans are in for a great encounter

Manchester City midfielder, Yaya Toure reckons today’s encounter against Liverpool at Anfield is a Premier League Cup final.

Chelsea may be running away at the top of the table after an incredible 12 wins on the bounce, while Liverpool and City

are Chelsea’s closest pursuers,  but defeat today could well leave the losers with simply too much ground to make up.

Toure, who has his sights set on a third Premier League title said: “I’m used to winning Premier Leagues, I think it’s second three times, and I want to win another. It’s going to be tough but we have to keep going because Chelsea are very good this year.

 “So for me this game is almost a final of the Premier League.

In the race for the title it is very important to win these games.

It’s going to be fantastic for the fans and we have to be ready. We have to continue because the Premier League is very tough.”

Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp insists history will count for nothing when Liverpool take on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at Anfield today.

The German will come up against Guardiola for the eighth time in his career when his second-placed side faces City, who are just one place and one point behind the Reds. 

Guardiola has enjoyed trophy-laden success with Barcelona and Bayern Munich and is regarded by many as one of the greatest managers in the world.

However, Klopp’s results against him have been as good as anyone’s with four victories – albeit three in cup competitions – in eight meetings during their time in the Bundesliga.

“We know everything about how Pep played with Bayern but that is not important anymore because it is different players and different systems,” said the Liverpool manager.

“We are a different team so at this moment both sides cannot be sure which idea the other team has. It is not that we have a look back at the last few games against Pep Guardiola because our teams don’t play each other.

“In Holland it was Johan Cruyff and Total Football. He (Guardiola) was very nearly perfect with Barcelona, he had a big influence with Bayern and changed their style completely.

“He is an outstanding manager, 100 per cent. I am not interested too much in giving things a name but you can see on the pitch he is an influential manager. He has a clear idea and a pretty much good idea. He has had a fantastic career until now.

“He had a nice style with Barcelona and was really good with Bayern and now he is at City and he is there to be successful and not to show how good he is. That is how we all are. We want to help our team. He is very influential but the Barcelona style is not possible for each team to play. It depends a lot on the players you have.

“If a Sunday morning team tried to play like Barcelona it would be pretty difficult. You always adapt to your players and that is what he is doing and it is what we do.”

Neither Philippe Coutinho or Joel Matip (both ankle injuries) will be available for the match, which is expected to be an entertaining game with Liverpool the Premier League’s highest scorers and City joint-second.

“If I didn’t sit on the bench I would buy a ticket for this game, 100 per cent,” added Klopp.

The two coaches are different cuts of cloth originating from the same thread.

Whether the preferred style is brash, loud colours or the understated yet sharp, tapered style of timeless grace and movement, both Klopp and Guardiola – and by extension both teams they lead – are now the fashion forward of a Premier League whose vanguard of foreign managers are no longer content to just hoof it up the pitch to re-create the blood-and-thunder days so many on the isle wistfully recall.

Klopp leads his Liverpool side into a mouth-watering clash against Guardiola’s Manchester City today to ring out 2016 with the prize of second place as Chelsea’s closest pursuers.

The two managers are no strangers to each other, having squared off eight times in the German Bundesliga in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons as Klopp managed upstart Borussia Dortmund and Guardiola directed leviathan Bayern Munich.

The entertaining matchups were usually rife with subplots, the main one being Klopp having to deal with losing stars such as Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski to the deep financial pockets Bayern unleashed to devastating effect. But for all the money Bayern Munich backed Guardiola with, the Spaniard was stopped one round short of the Champions League final each of his three seasons in Bavaria.

The two split their eight matches, with Klopp winning both DFL Supercups – the equivalent of England’s Community Shield. Guardiola won three of the four Bundesliga matches between the sides and the 2014 German Cup final in extra time – a defeat Klopp avenged as Dortmund ousted Bayern on penalties in the semifinals the following season.

Guardiola is an admirer of Klopp’s “gegenpressing” style he made famous at Dortmund and has brought to Anfield with great success over the course of a full year at Liverpool).

In the 2014 biography “Pep Confidential” by Marti Perarnau, Guardiola instantly recognized the distinctiveness of Klopp’s style of play.

“They’re like a steamroller, unstoppable,” said Guardiola, whose short, quick passing style at his previous stop in Barcelona revolutionised the game and recalled some of the ‘Total Football’ of the Dutch teams from the 1970s. “There are other teams who counterattack brilliantly, like Madrid for example, but Dortmund are unique.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. They are completely focused for 90 minutes, waiting for you to mess up a pass so they can set their sprinters on you.”

The numbers the Reds have produced under Klopp bear out Guardiola’s assertions. Liverpool have scored 86 goals in the 2016 calendar year, the most since bagging 87 in 1985 under Kenny Dalglish. Their 4-1 victory Wednesday over Stoke City also gave them 100 goals in 48 league matches under Klopp, matching “King Kenny” for the fewest games by a Liverpool manager to reach the century mark.