Unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of focus on today’s big game at Anfield in the Sunday papers and pixels…
There’s discussion about how the absence of Philippe Coutinho might affect the match, a look at City boss Pep Guardiola’s Premier League mindset, plus one former England, Liverpool and Real Madrid forward gives his take on the tactics.
First to City boss Guardiola, who was quizzed on facing Liverpool without new Barcelona midfielder Coutinho.
Ben Burrows writes in the Independent: “Pep Guardiola doesn’t think beating Liverpool will get any easier now that Philippe Coutinho has left for Barcelona.
“The Spaniard’s runaway league leaders face Jurgen Klopp’s Reds on Sunday with the hosts set to take the field for the first time since the Brazilian completed his £142m dream move to the Nou Camp earlier in the week.
“Much has been made of how Klopp will look to replace Coutinho but while Guardiola believes Barcelona have themselves a fine player he doesn’t think the side he has left behind will be much the poorer for his absence.
“’I think the quality of Coutinho is not in doubt. I think Barcelona have signed a top, top player. I think he suits perfectly the way Barcelona want to play, and have played for the past 20 years,’ he said.
‘But saying that, Liverpool have resources, and of course they are going to go into the market, and Jurgen knows exactly what he has to do, and what he needs for his team.
‘Liverpool remain a top, top, top team. I think this season, they have played a lot of games without Coutinho, for many reasons, injuries or other reasons, and they were always a good stable team. That is not going to change my opinion about Liverpool for Sunday.’”
The ‘foot on the gas’ theme continues in an article on Sky Sports, where Guardiola repeats there is never any room for complacency in his teams.
Richard Cooke’s report reads: “Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is refusing to describe his team as champions in waiting.
“City appear to be cruising towards their third Premier League title having won 20 of their opening 22 games – and drawn the other two – to open up a 15-point lead at the top of the table.
“But speaking ahead of Sunday’s eagerly-anticipated match against Liverpool, live on Sky Sports, Guardiola insisted he is not taking anything for granted.
“’In football and in sport, anything can happen,’ he said. ‘Of course we can lose the title because you never know what is going to happen in the next 13 or 14 games you have to play. Of course, if we maintain our level, the consistency and the way we play, then OK, we have a chance. But you never know.
“’If we start to go down, and lose confidence, and don’t play well regularly, then we will see. Maybe that is going to happen, and I am going to shake the hand of my opponents and congratulate them for being champions.”’
Finally ex-England striker Michael Owen has cast his eye over the match in his Daily Mail column and regardless of the outcome is expecting a great game of football.
Talking about City’s attacking brand of football, Owen says: “If you get it right, then it can look like City this season. And that’s worth aspiring to.
“It’s the basic essence of football — to excite people and make fans want to go to the game.
“The two coaches approach the games in slightly different ways. Guardiola’s style is possession based, playing from the back. Liverpool like to win the ball in attacking areas, so you have a shorter distance to make rapid bursts to the goal and do so by hunting in packs.
“It has worked perfectly for Mohamed Salah at Liverpool… but both teams play on the front foot. There’s no turning back with football like that. And you can’t help but respond to the energy and attacking philosophy.
“It’s much more difficult to create an attacking outfit than a defensive one. And it obviously incurs more risk.”
We’ll be back tomorrow with all the media reaction to the match!