As champions of the Premier League, Liverpool will play their first fixture at the home of their rivals, Manchester City, from whom they’ve wrestled away the league title.
After missing out on the big prize by just one point last term, the Reds have stormed past every opponent this season, and to their credit, even the otherwise relentless Manchester City failed to match the pace of Jurgen Klopp’s well-drilled unit.
Now that Liverpool have wrapped up the league, all the attention turns to the game between two of England’s strongest teams at the Etihad on Thursday night.
While the match may be of little importance to either side, it will definitely be a sign of things to come next season, as the Anfield-based club look to kick-start an era of dominance, while Manchester City, battered and bruised in the ongoing campaign, will have vengeance in their minds.
That being said, here are the top five players to look forward to, when Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City welcome Premier League champions Liverpool to the Etihad.
#5 Alisson (Liverpool)
Having missed early parts of the campaign through a hip-injury, Alisson made a starring return into the team, keeping 11 clean sheets in 22 Premier League matches.
He has single-handedly won points for his team on many occasions, and the same will be expected from the Brazilian custodian at the Etihad.
Facing one of the most fearsome attacks in the league, Alisson will have to be at his best to keep Manchester City at bay and help his side pick up another three points.
#4 Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
The Algerian winger has had a fruitful season with nine goals and 11 assists in 26 Premier League games.
He has been one of the most influential players for the Sky Blues this term, and Pep Guardiola will be counting on Mahrez to weave his magic on Thursday night as well. City need him to be at his best against the newly-crowned champions.
Since Sergio Aguero is out injured, the Citizens will rely on the likes of Mahrez and Raheem Sterling to come up with the goals.
#3 Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Premier League Golden Boot winner for the past two seasons, Mohamed Salah is enjoying another stellar campaign in front goal, as his current tally stands at 17 goals and seven assists in 27 matches.
The Egyptian superstar has been in good form lately, and on Thursday night he will go toe-to-toe with Benjamin Mendy, whose error against Chelsea helped the Blues open the scoring, subsequently helping the Reds to seal the title.
All eyes will be on the battle between Salah and Mendy, and we as fans, are in for a cracking game.
#2 Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
The man in form, arguably one of the best midfielders in world football at the moment, Pep Guardiola’s side will rely heavily on Kevin De Bruyne to take the game by the scruff of the neck and win all three points for the home side.
With 10 goals and 16 assists to his name, the Belgian has been in scintillating form, but he will have to rise to the occasion when Liverpool visit the Etihad.
De Bruyne is the most potent weapon in the Citizens’ arsenal, and the Reds will have to find a way to stop him, or they could be the latest team to fall prey to the 29-year-old exploits.
#1 Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
From Manchester City’s talisman to Liverpool’s hero, Virgil van Dijk has been the key cog in the Reds’ title triumph as he helped keep things tight at the back, which in turn allowed Jurgen Klopp’s side to wreak havoc at the other end of the pitch.
Since signing for the Merseyside club from Southampton in January 2018, the Dutchman has proved his value time and again, and he will be key to keeping the Sky Blues quiet on Thursday night.
Van Dijk’s battle with Manchester City’s forwards will be a great sight to watch, and it’s just one of the things that makes this game at the Etihad a must-watch, even for the neutrals.
All stats courtesy: Transfermarkt.co.in