Liverpool set to break Manchester city record

Sexy Premier League supporters could not have asked for a more tantalizing match to round off the international break than Saturday lunchtime’s match between Manchester City and Liverpool at their home stadium, the Etihad.

The tantalising encounter pits the two leading teams in the country against one another in what may prove to be an unlucky 13th gameweek for one manager, as Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp welcome players back from their national teams in dribs and drabs ahead of the biggest game of the season so far.

Two weekends prior, the Citizens had treated Chelsea to an eight-goal feast at Stamford Bridge.

An old flame named Cole Palmer had saved the champions all three points in a memorable 4–4 draw, leaving City with just a one-point advantage at the top.

This tenuous lead would vanish if Liverpool wins two straight games in the Premier League. Two weeks ago, they defeated Brentford 3-0, courtesy of goals from Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota, to go ahead of Arsenal into second place on goal differential.

Sports Mole selects a combined XI from both teams, selecting only players who are anticipated to be available for the match.

While numerous players from both teams may be restricted to the treatment room, some of the world’s best players will be strutting their stuff on the Etihad field.

Due to a foot injury, Manchester City’s top player Ederson is currently questionable for this match.

However, as is occasionally the case with the national team, a fully-fit Brazil international would still be starting on the bench in our starting lineup.

It might have been a completely different tale for the Reds and the Liverpool number one, who has four clean sheets and a league-high 78.7% save rate in 2023–24, was an easy choice, had Alisson Becker not denied Bryan Mbeumo with the score still tied against Brentford.

It was not easy to choose between Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold for the right-back position; the latter had shown flashes of his hybrid role-playing ability, but we have gone with the City player, who has the same assist total as Alexander-Arnold one but a far higher passing success rate of 89.1% as opposed to the Liverpool defender’s 81%, and who is still as adept in one-on-one situations.

Given that Kostas Tsimikas has played inconsistently in Andrew Robertson’s absence due to a shoulder injury, and that neither Josko Gvardiol nor Manuel Akanji are natural full-backs but are willing to play anywhere for the City cause, it was difficult to choose a left-back.

While Akanji is positioned as the left-back in our lineup, Ruben Dias, another defensive player in the top 10 for passing percentages, fits right into the center of the backline after consistently demonstrating his value to Guardiola’s scheme.

In addition, with 2,699 yards, the Portugal international is second in the league for progressive carrying distance, only behind Aston Villa’s Pau Torres (3,018 yards).

A rejuvenated Virgil van Dijk could not be left out, with John Stones sidelined due to injury and Ibrahima Konate touch-and-go because of a hamstring problem.

The Dutchman has won 51 aerial duels so far, with only Carlton Morris (53) and Ethan Pinnock (59) having won more.

Let’s go on to one of the first names on the teamsheet: Rodri, the unstoppable center of attention for all aspiring engine room enforcers, is the master of midfield for City.

In addition to his commendable three goals and two assists, the Spaniard is in the top five in that category with 51 shot-creating actions in the Premier League this season, matching Akanji’s 93.6% pass success percentage.

But Dominik Szoboszlai, a recent addition to Liverpool who takes advantage of Kevin De Bruyne’s absence to gain a spot in our lineup, is one individual who can surpass Rodri’s SCA total.

Well worth the £60 million transfer cost he received, Szoboszlai has recorded the third-highest number of shot-creating actions in the league with 55, along with the best number of pass blocks in the league with 23.

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