Dangerous Liverpool back on Manchester City’s radar and eyeing top spot

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during their Premier League football match against Brighton and Hove Albion

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during their Premier League football match against Brighton and Hove Albion. Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP

Published Nov 23, 2023


The Premier League returns with a bang on Saturday as leaders Manchester City host a Liverpool side who have emerged as the biggest threat to their hopes of a record fourth straight title.

City, who are a point clear at the top with almost a third of the season played, tussled for the trophy with Arsenal last season and the Gunners are again firmly in the mix.

But Liverpool, who finished in fifth place last season 22 points behind Pep Guardiola's team, look much more like the side who went toe-to-toe with the City in some epic title races.

"I think it's two of the best teams in the world right now. I think the only thing we have to see it like is as a final, to play our football," Liverpool defender Kostas Tsimikas said.

Jurgen Klopp's side suffered a humbling 4-1 drubbing at City in April and City are currently on a 23-match winning run at The Etihad Stadium in all competitions.

But there are genuine reasons for optimism for Liverpool who would leapfrog Guardiola's team with a victory.

In their last game before the international break City conceded four goals in a thrilling draw at Chelsea and they also have a lengthy injury list with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, John Stones, Mateo Kovacic and Nathan Ake all ruled out.

City goal machine Erling Haaland is expected to be available despite slight concerns over his ankle and the Norway striker will be desperate to open his account against Liverpool, one of two Premier League clubs he has not scored against.

Should Haaland play, and score, he would reach 50 Premier League goals in 48 appearances, eclipsing the previous quickest half century achieved by Andy Cole in 65 games.

Tricky test

Arsenal, who are level on 27 points with Liverpool, face a tricky test at mid-table Brentford in Saturday's late game in what will be Mikel Arteta's 200th match in charge.

Tottenham Hotspur's best start to a top-flight campaign since 1960 has hit the buffers after back-to-back defeats by Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The north Londoners are ravaged by suspensions and injuries but will at least have left back Destiny Udogie available again for Sunday's home clash against fifth-placed Aston Villa.

Sunday also sees Everton in action for the first time since they were slapped with a 10-point penalty for breaching the Premier League's profitability and sustainability rules -- a punishment they intend to appeal against.

Their severe treatment has stoked the fires at Goodison Park and Manchester United, who have lost nine of their opening 17 games in all competitions, might face a backlash by Sean Dyche's side who now find themselves second-bottom in the table.

Chelsea's resurgence, which has featured their 4-1 win at Tottenham and 4-4 home draw with City, will be tested at seventh-placed Newcastle United who will have one eye on a huge Champions League clash at Paris St Germain next week.

Basement club Burnley host West Ham United while third-bottom Sheffield United have the chance to climb out of the relegation zone if they win at home to 16th-placed Bournemouth.