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Can Manchester City halt Liverpool's Premier League surge?

It's not quite the title-decider in the classic sense of the term, but Premier League shootouts don't come much bigger than Manchester City's top-of-the-table showdown with Liverpool.

Original article published 30 August 2022

Pep Guardiola's City, the reigning champions who at one stage were 14 points clear of the field, against Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, the mighty Merseysiders who have spent the last few months flawlessly eating into their rivals' lead.

Now, with eight games of this pulsating season left, just one point separates the two stand-out sides of English club football as they prepare for the biggest game of the Premier League campaign yet.

City are 1/1, Liverpool 5/2, the draw is 11/4 and it's odds-on it will be tense.

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Fortress Etihad could be Pep's trump card

Both teams head into the game in largely superb form. City have lost only five matches all season long, two of which were in Europe.

An opposing player hasn't scored against them in any of their last five matches and they still have big FA Cup and Champions League ties to come as they chase down a treble.

Liverpool, with the League Cup already banked, have a quad in their sights but their only focus is on the league this weekend, in which they have won each of their last 10 matches.

City are the highest home scorers in the top division, where they boast a plus-30 goal difference, while Liverpool are the highest away scorers, where they have a goal difference of plus 25.

Much has been made of the fact that Klopp boasts a better win record against Guardiola than any other manager, though of course they have come up against each other plenty of times.

That said, it's City who boast better recent head-to-head record in this fixture having lost just one of the last seven Premier League tussles. It was 2-2 when they met in October at Anfield, City twice coming from behind to earn a point courtesy of goals from Phil Foden and Kevin de Bruyne, Guardiola's crown jewels in his quest to find a way past Virgil van Dijk and co.

It was Foden who set up De Bruyne to score the only goal on Tuesday night as City pipped Atletico Madrid 1-0 in Europe. De Bruyne and Foden are each 7/1 in first-scorer betting this weekend.

Can Salah find his spark again?

You have to go back seven years for the last time Liverpool won at the Etihad in the league, Klopp masterminding a 4-1 romp past Manuel Pellegrini's City in November 2015 with Roberto Firmino on the scoresheet that day.

Firmino, 10/1 to open the scoring this weekend, is now behind the likes of Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz in Klopp's thinking, though it's the form of Mo Salah rather than anyone else which might give the Reds' boss some cause for concern.

The Egyptian, 8/5 to notch at any time against City, is enjoying another stellar campaign with 30 goals to his name. Half of those, however, had come by the end of October. He has managed just one goal - from the penalty spot - in his last nine games for club and country and his last goal from open play was seven weeks ago against Norwich.

He's had an arduous few months with trips to Cameroon for the Africa Cup of Nations, Cairo and Dakar for World Cup qualifiers and Milan and Lisbon in Europe. Throw in the rigours of a hectic Premier League schedule, and he might just have lost some of his sharpness.

City's defenders will certainly hope so if they are to take the big stride in this biggest of games towards retaining their title.

Crunch time at Carrow Road

There's no question which is the biggest game in town this weekend - though if your town is Norwich, you might disagree.

While the title is on the line at the Etihad, Premier League survival is the name of the game at Carrow Road where bottom club Norwich will surely think they have to beat fellow strugglers Burnley to have any glimmer of a hope of survival.

Norwich have six points to find on Burnley in 18th (the Clarets also have a game in hand) and having taken two points out of a possible 24, Dean Smith's strugglers don't have an awful lot in their favour. The Canaries are a 19/10 chance, Burnley are 6/4 and the draw is 11/5.

Bees buzzing about London double

Three wins in the last four have all but ended relegation talk at Brentford, where the arrival of Christian Eriksen has coincided with the Bees turning on the style.

Eriksen was instrumental in last week's astonishing 4-1 triumph at Chelsea and having clattered Thomas Tuchel's European champions, Thomas Frank's men will now attempt to shackle a West Ham side they've already beaten this term. Another Brentford victory is 31/20, West Ham are 17/10 and the draw is 23/10. 

The one other match on the Sunday card is the first genuine mid-table, nothing-riding-on-it clash of the season between Leicester and Crystal Palace, although both are in decent form - the Foxes have lost just one of their last nine, the Eagles are unbeaten in seven. A Foxes victory is 31/20, a Palace triumph is 7/4 and the draw is 23/10.

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