BY MAUREEN OYUGI
Manchester City and Liverpool meet at Etihad Stadium on Thursday night in what should prove to be a huge match in deciding the destiny of the 2018/19 Premier League title.
City’s recent short-comings have seen Liverpool take a seven point lead in the title race and Jurgen Klopp’s side remain the sole unbeaten side in the top flight.
A win against Pep Guardiola’s defending champions would make the Reds strong favourites for their first title in twenty nine years.
Liverpool crushed Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield in their final game of 2018 while Manchester City won 3-1 against Southampton.
This season’s first meeting between the two sides ended in a 0-0 draw after Algerian Riyad Mahrez missed a late penalty at Anfield.
Manager Pep Guardiola believes City has an excellent opportunity to breathe new life into their Premier League defence when they take on Liverpool.
City could be boosted by the return of influential Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who missed their victory over Southampton with a muscle injury but could make his return against Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Ikay Gundogan could also return but Fabian Delph remains suspended.
James Milner is in contention at Etihad. A minor muscular injury ruled Milner out of the Boxing Day win over Newcastle but he is expected to be available on Thursday.
QUICK MATCH STATISTICS
City has just won one of their last eleven meetings with Liverpool in all Competitions (D3L7) although that was a 5-0 thrashing at Etihad in the Premier League last season.
Liverpool have only won one of their last 9 League visits to the Etihad Stadium (D3L5).
February 2016 was the last time City lost consecutive home Premier League games, losing to Leicester and Spurs.
Manager Pep Guardiola has never lost consecutive home games as a manager.
Liverpool has won only 5 of their last 17 matches in all competitions in January (D5L7), with the Reds loosing 9 of all 24 matches during the month (W8D7).
At the end of the year, Liverpool topped the Premier League by seven points; no other team has ever failed to win the English top flight title with such a lead coming into the New Year.
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero are the key players.