Manchester City - Liverpool: MCFC predicted XI

Manchester City, who currently lead the Premier League standings, will be eager for another win to strengthen their title credentials against a side in transition - one who have been rejuvenuated under Jürgen Klopp's reign thus far, but still a team that have a long way to go before they can class themselves as title contenders.

Even still, they'll certainly pose a probing threat upon Manuel Pellegrini's men, and it'll be intriguing to see how the Citizens deal with it.

City's Predicted XI, is as follows.

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper and defence

City's defence has been a much stronger unit so far this term, but it's not perfect though. Unless he's injured, Joe Hart will take his place in-between the sticks, whilst the backline will also be relatively unchanged too.

The centre-back pairing of Nicolas Otámendi and Vincent Kompany has been blossoming recently, and it's very encouraging to see two top defenders working well in a solid partnership together.

They'll have their work cut out having to deal with the attacking threats posed by the likes of former Blue Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho - who are Liverpool's focal points going forward.

In the absence of Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna has consistently done himself justice at right-back, both defensively as well as adding an attacking outlet on the flank.

On the other side, Aleksandar Kolarov has enjoyed success along with Raheem Sterling - as their link-up play has been sharp but deft too, interchanging attacking positions with relentless speed.

Midfield five

As a holding midfield duo, Brazilian duo Fernando and Fernandinho will be expected to hold the fort in-front of the backline. Honestly speaking, Fernando had been poor during his first season in the English top flight. Looking off-the-pace and out-of-sorts when given an opportunity, he has looked anything but this term.

Fernandinho meanwhile, continues to shine. An integral part of the first-team, the 30-year-old gives City bite in midfield, allowing the more attacking players, such as Yaya Touré, the freedom to get forward as they please.

His tough tackling style, as well as the amount of interceptions he makes during a game to break up play in the centre of the field, is definitely impressive. He'll have his hands full as usual against the visiting Reds.

Kevin de Bruyne has been the club's best player since his big-money switch from VfL Wolfsburg in the summer, and he has silenced critics in no time with consistently eyecatching displays in a creative minded position, always looking for teammates in space and finding them with great poise and skill. You'd naturally expect, if he plays well, City could very easily run away with the game - considering Liverpool have struggled defensively in recent times.

One player that has struggled to get into gear is Yaya Touré. The powerful Ivorian has a licence to get forward on a marauding run, something he has done often with success over the past two or three seasons. This term though, he has been far from his best. Occasional moments of individual brilliance cannot keep him in the starting XI for much longer, as he has virtually disregarded his defensive duties and isn't creating enough in the final third to justify that.

His power, agility and overall presence - as well as his big-game reputation, are the main reasons as to why he'd be deployed as the number ten against Liverpool.

Now, onto Raheem Sterling. It was inevitable that I'd have to talk about Raheem, who hasn't done his reputation any harm since his acrimonious departure from Anfield this past summer. The reception he receives is certainly going to be an unsavoury one, with the popular view being he left for a higher wage packet.

But once you delve deeper into the topic, you soon find out that this was not the case. City are one of the best sides in the League, Liverpool are in transition and at his age, he wants to develop himself further by being alongside world-class players. At Eastlands, he hasn't done too badly whatsoever.

His counter-attacking exploits, coupled with his blistering pace and close-control dribbling, could easily spell trouble for his former employers.

Lone striker, a return on the cards?

Sergio Agüero - Last, but certainly not least... a return! Agüero was pictured back in training earlier this week, and his presence alone will be a massive boost to his teammates, considering injuries elsewhere in the squad have hurt morale and meant they've had to grind out results of late.

Aguero returned to training this past week, ahead of their clash with Liverpool
Back in business: Agüero (middle) in his return to first-team training this past week, along with maestro David Silva (right)

The talented Argentine is a proven goal threat, has already netted eight goals in all competitions (eleven games played), and is undoubtedly the club's best player.

Can he help fire the sky Blues to victory?

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