By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Premier League champions Manchester City return to the scene of their worst defeats of last season when they take on title rivals Liverpool in a highly-anticipated clash at Anfield on Sunday.
City were beaten twice by Juergen Klopp’s team on Merseyside — a 4-3 defeat in the league and a 3-0 reverse in the Champions League quarter-final, first leg.
The matches were superb entertainment for the neutral fan and another high-octane affair is expected on Sunday.
Both teams have made unbeaten starts to the domestic season with six victories from seven games and 19 points each — Pep Guardiola’s side are top of the table thanks to a better goal difference.
The manner of Liverpool’s victories, ripping apart City’s defence with their high pressing and high-speed forward line, left the impression that the Reds may have City’s number.
“These are the games you want to win. They are a team in form and at Anfield, we know this will be a difficult game for us,” City captain Vincent Kompany said.
“But I think this City side has shown in the past that we are always up for these games,” he added.
In January, Liverpool led 4-1 before a late City attempted comeback yielded two goals in the last 10 minutes, with all three of Klopp’s forwards — Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino — on target.
That front-line hasn’t quite hit the heights of last season yet with Salah in particular lacking sharpness, but in Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge, whose spectacular late goal earned a point at Chelsea last week, Klopp has options from the bench.
Liverpool also look stronger at the back than last season and have more options in midfield with the addition of Naby Keita and Fabinho.
Both teams will feature Brazilian goalkeepers who are adept at passing with Alisson Becker at Liverpool bringing some of the qualities City have benefited from with their number one Ederson.
Jose Mourinho can ill-afford another poor result for his struggling Manchester United side when they face Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Amidst reports of divisions in the camp, United have not won in their last four outings in all competitions and are 10th in the Premier League, nine points adrift of the top two.
Third-placed Chelsea, who are also unbeaten, are away to Southampton on Sunday while Arsenal face promoted Fulham at Craven Cottage.
After facing Barcelona on Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur, depleted by injuries, host second-bottom Cardiff City.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond)