Manchester City and Liverpool square off again in the Premier League on Saturday, with the Community Shield on the line at the King Power Stadium.
City have played three fewer pre-season games than Liverpool, so there will be doubts about how their match fitness compares to Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Pep Guardiola’s side, on the other hand, are coming off two strong triumphs against Club America and Bayern Munich, where Erling Haaland scored his first goal for the club 12 minutes into his debut. Liverpool, on the other hand, has had a mixed bag of pre-season games, winning three and losing two.
Despite the fact that both teams are arguably underperforming, the game is shaping up to be a close and exciting match between the two, with the smallest of margins likely to decide the winner. Last season, both Premier League meetings ended 2-2, but Liverpool won the FA Cup semi-finals 3-2 in April.
Guardiola made a number of interesting alterations to his starting XI for that FA Cup match, especially his choice to rest Ederson and instead play Zack Steffen, which not only raised eyebrows before kickoff but also proved expensive on the day.
This is because, with City already behind thanks to an Ibrahima Konate header, Steffen was caught in possession inside his own penalty area, allowing Sadio Mane to glide in and increase Liverpool’s lead.
The blunder was caused by some terrific pushing from Liverpool high up the field, but City are accustomed to facing such pressure and generally handle exceptionally well with it, owing to Ederson’s proficiency with the ball at his feet.
He’s crucial to a lot of City’s strong possession play within their own half, and it’s no surprise that just 23.9 percent of his Premier League passes last season were launched long.
Steffen’s gaffe highlighted how brilliant Ederson is in this area, and it’ll be intriguing to watch whether a similar situation plays out on Saturday, but this time with Liverpool possibly exposed.
This is due to Klopp’s team missing their main shot-stopper, Alisson. He hasn’t played since a pre-season friendly against Manchester United in Bangkok last month. Despite the fact that the Brazilian has started training, Klopp has reiterated that he will not be available for Saturday’s match.
Alisson is the only Premier League goalkeeper who played fewer long kicks (22.2%) than Ederson last season, and he, too, is critical to Liverpool’s ability to play out from the back successfully.
Adrian has been playing in lieu of Alisson, although he lacks Alisson’s talent with the ball at his feet. City will undoubtedly push Liverpool hard, as they do against all opponents, and the Spanish goalkeeper may possibly be the weak link that they want to exploit.