Liverpool host Manchester City at Anfield live on Sky Sports this Sunday – but how do the teams’ current styles and form compare ahead of the blockbuster clash?
In recent times, England’s top two clubs have occupied the top of the table heading into the weekend, while recent title clashes between the league giants have generally been highly charged clashes.
To add even more gravity, the game has also scored more goals than any game between last season’s top four teams in the Premier League since Pep Guardiola joined Manchester City in 2016.
The table below lists previous meetings in all competitions since 2016/17 and highlights City’s recent dominance – with a 4-1 win in February last season and a 4-0 win in July of the year. last. Liverpool won a 4-3 thriller in January 2018, but City rioted with a 5-0 masterclass in September 2017.
Jurgen Klopp has beaten Pep Guardiola eight times – more than any other manager.
What’s the style?
Liverpool typically overload the right flank with Trent Alexander-Arnold – who was ruled out this weekend due to injury – pushing high, the right midfielder widening and Mohamed Salah stationed further upstream.
Manchester City have also started all six league games so far in a 4-3-3 system, but have more offensive impetus on the left flank.
In addition to being at the top of the standings heading into the weekend, both teams also rank first in a series of measures. Surprisingly, City’s main weakness this quarter has been conversion of odds – an issue that, if sustained, will add weight to the argument that they need a conventional No.9 after their unsuccessful summer chase. by Harry Kane.
Pep Guardiola’s side placed fourth in the Premier League with 12 goals heading into Matchday 7, while their next hosts led the way with 15 goals scored. The expected goals data emphasizes City’s on-goal advantage to date, which is compounded by far fewer attempts to hit the target.
Liverpool pose a considerable threat in deadball situations with six league-leading goals from set pieces – while only Newcastle have scored more heads than both sides this quarter.
As the interactive graphic above shows, both teams lead the way for penalty shootout attempts. The shooting maps below suggest that Liverpool generally shoot from a slightly more centralized area – frequently hitting the target from that area inside the box and Salah’s right area.
As was the case last season, City’s goals were mostly scored from a group of shots taken in and around the six-yard box of regular runners and cut-backs, but the graph below also highlights a dearth of accurate shots.
In terms of preferred attacking channels, the visualization below reinforces the styles revealed in the middle positions, highlighting how Liverpool carry their biggest threat on the right flank, while City match that danger on the left channel – which poses a fascinating puzzle for managers when the chains go head-to-head this Sunday.
Could Liverpool focus on the left side now that right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has been ruled out?
Despite the unbalanced dangers on the flanks, Liverpool’s assists came from the flanks and central areas to an almost equal extent, while City actually had the greatest joy on the right – suggesting that clear opportunities have had it. been begged by the evoked chances of the left. .
Liverpool trio Salah (five goals), Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane (both three) lead the goals table for the combined teams. Meanwhile, the expected goal data in the interactive graph below shows how Ferran Torres, Raheem Sterling and Grealish were the most to blame for missing out on City’s opportunities.
Both teams will look to stifle the main opposition creators: Salah poses the biggest threat with Alexander-Arnold out of action for Liverpool, while Grealish plays most often with his teammates for City – creating 16 and 18 chances respectively.
Who presses the hardest?
Both managers demand that they apply pressure to use their high line styles and defend the counterattack. Interestingly, advanced metrics suggest both teams still have defensive lines that average around 44m from their own goal, but Manchester United have usurped both clubs this quarter.
Liverpool usually lead the way for high turnovers but have been replaced by Burnley this season. Either way, the Reds are slightly more aggressive than City in the attacking and middle thirds and will look to disrupt the visitors’ usual progression by going deep by flipping possession.
The graph below reveals how the two teams round up loose balls much more frequently on their respective favorite attacking channels: Liverpool right and City left. This suggests that an effective tactic on Sunday could be to progress from the depths of the opposite channel, before switching flanks with diagonals to expose the rampaging full-backs.
Alexander-Arnold swept more free balls than any other player on either team, while Rodri almost matches the full-back’s returns in that regard for City. Grealish leads the way to grab turnovers in the final third, while Cancelo is most effective at initiating and winning 50/50 duels.
Confrontation of the smugglers
So that’s not surprising: City and Liverpool are at the top of the standings in assists completed and possession again this season. But, breaking down further, we can see City registering much more uninterrupted passing streaks in their generally slower build style.
Further analysis reveals that City appear to be closing the gap with Jurgen Klopp’s side for cross-shoots this season – with the two teams nearly tied for passes into the box from wide channels.
The passing networks below give even more insight into the middle positions and flank attacking visualizations above and reveal Liverpool’s triangular combinations on the lower right, with Fabinho usually looking to unload on that flank.
Meanwhile, like Liverpool, City are protecting their high line with net-shaped combinations, which are also surprisingly similar to their future hosts but appear slightly more symmetrical – despite the concentration of exchanges occurring on the lower left.
Ruben Dias and Cancelo register the most passes, the former frequently controlling possession from the depths, with Liverpool center-backs also producing numbers at the top of the squad.
The Reds will no doubt miss Alexander-Arnold, who is by far the biggest passing threat in the opposing box – while Ilkay Gundogan and Cancelo lead the way for City.
Weak points ?
City go into shock over this weekend’s blockbusters with just one goal conceded in six league games – a staggering feat. On paper, the Liverpool defense rank third with four goals scored – having disclosed three during the 3-3 thriller with Brentford last week.
The graph below reveals all the defensive actions performed by each team’s four full-backs this season and indicates that City’s rearguard frequently presses higher than Liverpool’s back line – to prevent blocks and support the midfielder. defensive ground.
Klopp acknowledged how Brentford found a glitch in the Reds’ system last week by overloading Liverpool’s right flank to exploit defensive weaknesses born from their offensive push into that channel – while also prompting defenders to leave zonal territories.
Indeed, the visualization below reveals that Liverpool’s opponents have targeted this chain, with almost half of all attacks on that third of the pitch. Unsurprisingly, City’s opponents deployed the exact same approach to exploit their forward left channel.
In terms of locating sources of danger and potential weak spots for both teams, the maps below plot each pass leading to a conceded shot.
Liverpool tend to give up crosses to their right flank and deep within their left midfield of the center – the conceded goals all coming from shots taken around the six-yard penalty area. Meanwhile, City have faced 36 shots at the lowest in the league – almost half that of the Reds – but seem more penetrable from center passes thrown into their box.
The hard sites
Both teams have become synonymous with physical effort under their current leaders, but have dropped out this season. We can say that their high lines allow to work in a more compressed area and therefore less ground to cover. The city placed 14th in distance covered before the weekend, which is particularly low compared to previous seasons.
In terms of players, Sadio Mane has covered more distance than any other player between the teams, but a slew of City players follow, with Ilkay Gudogan, Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias all scoring more than 48km of the six games at this time. day, while Mane and Salah lead the way for sprints.
Who is red?
The table below uses Sky Sports Power rankings to rank player fitness, based on 35 matchday metrics, and gradually awards a higher proportion of points for more recent games.
Salah has scored four goals and had two assists in five appearances against Man City in all competitions at Anfield.
Salah is the player in current form and topped the goalscoring table with five goals heading into the weekend – tied with Michail Antonio and Jamie Vardy, but City Cancelo full-back follows suit and stopper Ederson goes high with his five best in the league. sheets.
Now it’s your turn…
Use the interactive charts below to explore squad and player stats in the Premier League this season …