View from the Opposition: VAVEL's Manchester City editor on Saturday's clash with Liverpool

Liverpool face one of toughest fixtures in the Premier League immediately after the end of the recent international break, as they take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

A fortnight has since passed but the sour taste of the Reds' 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace, their first loss in seven games under under Jürgen Klopp, still very much lingers.

The two-week break has given the German time to assess his first month or so in the job, but his side will have to be at their very best in order to bounce back from defeat to Palace with a draw, or even a win, at City.

It's not out of the question, having downed reigning champions Chelsea in their own backyard at the end of last month, but it's arguably Klopp's toughest task yet - with City sat at the top of the table with more goals scored than any other top-flight team.

Their abundance of quality in the final third, in addition to their defensive strength, makes them a particularly tough opponent anywhere - not least at home, where they have lost just two of their last 20 league games.

Ahead of the highly-anticipated clash, VAVEL Liverpool spoke to Mosope Ominiyi - VAVEL UK's second-highest ever contributor and the editor of the Manchester City office - who gave his view from the opposition here:

Q: Top of the table with the best goals scored tally in the league, in addition to boasting the joint-second best goals conceded record, it’s not going too badly for Manchester City so far this term - is it?

MO: No, it's not! Considering Sergio Agüero and David Silva have been out for the past month or so, things haven't been too bad at the Ethiad - all things considered. All of their summer acquisitions are gelling into the side well; most notably Kevin de Bruyne, who has returned to the top flight like a house on fire, and is already a firm fan favourite. Nicolas Otámendi has settled into the backline neatly too, considering he doesn't speak much English either. His power, agility and towering presence in the air are all qualities that help improve City defensively, where they've been vulnerable in recent years. Raheem Sterling, it was inevitable we'd talk about him, right? He adds another attacking dimension for City going forward, with Jesús Navas operating on the opposite wing. He's been quietly going about his business, and hasn't disappointed! Fabian Delph, who has been incredibly unfortunate with injuries of late, could prove to be a virtual new signing as he tries to assert his claim for a starting berth in the coming months. His display against Spain last week on the international break will give him confidence for the future. Arguably the scariest thing of all, is the fact that City haven't got into top gear yet. Not at all.

Q: It’s been a mixed season for Liverpool but things have certainly improved since Jürgen Klopp’s arrival, what have you made of the Reds’ season up to now?

MO: Honestly, it was a surprise when I initially heard that Jürgen Klopp had arrived at Anfield - probably how most Liverpool supporters felt too. At the start of the campaign, and up until now, the best word to describe it, is probably inconsistent. Flashes of brilliance, mixed with spells of poor defending and wasteful finishing when the opportunity arises. Must be frustrating for sure, but I think it'd only be fair to really gauge Klopp after a season or two, after all, he has to work with the players he has been given.

Q: There have been a few blips in City’s campaign, particularly those back-to-back losses to West Ham and Tottenham in September. What can Liverpool draw from those games as they look for the three points?

MO: Against West Ham, it was probably a case of luck mixed with unpredictability from the visitors in fairness. City had a plethora of chances to score, but only managed one. They could, and probably should, have had five or six, if not for the goalkeeping heroics of Adrían. Victor Moses' early opener was important because the shape of the game changed completely - City started slowly and were punished within minutes, something that rarely happens to them, so they naturally had to react. Tottenham, was quite a strange one. City took the lead and the general consensus was that they'd probably run away with the game. The controversy in the build-up to Eric Dier's goal before half-time quite clearly rattled Manuel Pellegrini's men, who started the second-half slowly and were punished by some effective counter-attacking exploits. If they'd gone into the half-time break with a lead, the game would have been completely different. Liverpool need to start on the front foot from the offset and avoid making any mistakes defensively, easier said than done, if they are to snatch all three points.

Q: Of their last 20 home games in the Premier League, City have won 16, lost two and drawn two - what makes them so dominant and dangerous at the Etihad?

MO: That's a good question, actually. In spite of claims that the club have no atmosphere, fake supporters and fickle fans generally, the crowd obviously give them a slight advantage going into every home match - even when it doesn't seem that way. On their day, City can beat anyone. At home, they always love to dominate possession and create entertaining football for the fans, winning in the process. Away from home, their game-plan is often much different. They can sit back, invite pressure, defend well and hit their opposition on the counter and scrape a 1-0 victory, if needs must. What makes them so dominant is the fact they, the players, have so much freedom to go forward and score goals.

Q: City could have Sergio Aguero and David Silva back from injuries in time for the fixture, with Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Samir Nasri also potentially available - how important would their returns be?

MO: Questions have been raised as to whether Samir Nasri will actually stay at the club or not, and it was a shame that he got injured, as well as the others - considering he is fighting for his place in the starting XI at the moment. I'm not sure he'll feature, even if fit, against Liverpool. Possibly a cameo appearance off the bench, but you get the feeling it's never enough for the Frenchman to show just how good he is. Aguero and Silva, well. Those two combined are a nightmare to defend against, so Liverpool will have a tough task trying to do so if they do play. The centre-back pairing of Vincent Kompany and Otámendi is starting to blossom, and you'd naturally hope the Belgian is 100% fit for Saturday's game, because the team always seems to struggle without their captain's presence. In Pablo Zabaleta's absence since the start of the season through injury, Bacary Sagna has done an excellent job of holding the fort on the right-hand side, it must be stressed. 

Q: January’s quickly approaching, which means the return of the never-ending rumours and the transfer market merry-go-round - can City still improve in any areas? 

MO:  City can always improve, certainly! I feel as though they need to get a stronger alternative to Willy Caballero, to compete with Joe Hart for the number one jersey. Hart's been an excellent servant and all, but just as Jack Butland has done in the England set-up, he needs competition at club level to really get the best out of him. You could argue that both full-back slots, left and right, need strengthening. But that seems more of a long-term plan for the club to deal with next summer, considering age and experience between the current players in those positions. Wilfried Bony has been, in my opinion at least, harshly criticised for his displays at the club in recent months. So much so that some fans admit they want to see him out of the door in January, which would be pointless really. Not making attacking alternatives you can get for a cheap price, in the middle of the season. He needs more time, and patience.

Q: With that said, are there any areas of the City side which Liverpool could look to exploit?

MO: Despite Otàmendi's presence, Liverpool certainly can hurt City defensively. They got plenty of trickery, tireless players that could prove tough to contain the threat of, including Jordon Ibe and Philippe Coutinho. That's not even mentioning midfield, it'll be interesting to see where Yaya Tourè plays because defensively, he struggles. Playing as a number ten, he has been largely ineffective recently too.

Q: Saturday sees Raheem Sterling face up against his former side, but how well has he done in Manchester since his £49 million transfer in the summer? Can he play a key part this weekend?

MO: Sterling's given a good account of himself since his summer switch, and seems to already be a better player for it. Obviously he's still only 20 and continues to develop, but in a team full of world-class talents, he doesn't look out of place there - which is refreshing to see after such criticism of his move in the first place. His main area of weakness is, at the moment, his decision-making and goalscoring. He'll never be appreciated as one of the best in his age-group across Europe unless he shows more ruthlessness in-front of goal, whilst his decision-making will undoubtedly improve with experience. Can he play a big part? Definitely, as long as he gets service on the wing, he creates chances with seeming ease.

Q: City obviously have an abundance of quality in the final third, whilst Klopp will be forced into defensive changes due to injuries - is this a game where we could see plenty of goals?

MO: Defensively, Liverpool are at their weakest. City will naturally look to exploit that, and it wouldn't surprise me to see an action-packed affair filled with goals galore, both trying to outscore the other. Saying that, it'll probably be a draw now..

Q: With ex-City striker Daniel Sturridge amongst those fighting for fitness after returning to training earlier this week, which Liverpool players will Manuel Pellegrini be particularly wary of?

MO: If he's fit to play, Daniel Sturridge is definitely a problem for City. They often struggle to do with fast, agile forwards who have a keen eye for goal - something which has been their downfall in the Champions League over the past few seasons. Coutinho is certainly in that bracket of players who can change a game within a flash, even when not playing at his best. Emre Can and Jordon Ibe, are the other two Pellegrini will be worried about.

Q: Finally, your prediction for the game?

MO: I have an inkling that Liverpool can do the business, provided they start well and maintain a high level throughout. The smallest of mistakes can result in a goal conceded, and on paper, City have an overall stronger side to field. It won't be easy, but you'd expect the hosts to overcome Klopp's Reds. 2-1 or 3-1 to City.

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