Haaland, form & title chances - Liverpool v Man City

Haaland, form & title chances – Liverpool v Man City

Liverpool and Manchester City go head to head on Sunday in a game that may lacks its usual recent importance – with 13 points separating the sides.

The Reds are in 11th with only two wins from eight games and boss Jurgen Klopp has already said they are “not in the title race”.

Defending champions City – on the other hand – are unbeaten after nine games.

This game could prove to be a turning point, though, if the Reds can rip up the form book at Anfield.

Klopp’s side come into the game on the back of a remarkable 7-1 win at Rangers in the Champions League.

“It changes the mood definitely, and that’s good,” said Klopp after the Ibrox rout. “We all know who is coming on Sunday. That will be different, but it’s better to go in with the feeling from tonight.”

Liverpool struggling for form, but City are flying

Can Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool rediscover their form against Pep Guardiola’s City?

A lot has happened since Liverpool beat City 3-1 in the Community Shield on 30 July.

Liverpool have only won two Premier League games this season – in the space of five days at the end of August. They beat Bournemouth 9-0 and then needed a 98th-minute goal to defeat Newcastle 2-1.

To show how much they have slid since then, they are now three points behind Bournemouth.

Their 10 points is their worst tally after eight Premier League games since 2012-13 when they finished seventh and failed to qualify for Europe.

Boss Klopp said recently they need to learn to be unpredictable again.

The Reds’ decline this season has been remarkable, seeing as they were in contention for an unprecedented quadruple until the final week of last season when they lost out on the Premier League title and Champions League final.

Whether their seven goals at Rangers prove to be more of a launchpad than their nine goals against Bournemouth did remains to be seen.

Manchester City seem unstoppable with Erling Haaland leading the line up front – with seven wins and two draws from nine games in the league.

They are only behind Arsenal – who are also flying – by one point.

Pep Guardiola’s team have already scored 33 goals in those games. To add to that they have sealed Champions League last-16 qualification with two games to spare so can afford to rotate in Europe.

Erling Haaland, that’s the headline

Fewest games needed to score 25 Champions League goals

The man, the myth, the legend.

When City signed striker Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, there was a feeling he could take them to another level, after two seasons (albeit title-winning ones) without regularly playing a striker.

That is exactly how it has transpired… to record-breaking levels.

Haaland has scored 20 goals in 13 games for City in all competitions and 15 goals in nine Premier League games.

He is just the second City player after Sergio Aguero in 2019 to score in seven consecutive Premier League appearances.

And he has already equalled the 15-goal tally of their top league scorer last season – Kevin de Bruyne.

Before this season Micky Quinn had the most goals in his first nine Premier League appearances with 11. The quickest player to reach 15 Premier League goals was Andy Cole, who needed 15 games to do so. Haaland has both those records now.

He should come to Anfield fresh, having only played 45 minutes across City’s past two Champions League games.

“He’s probably the best striker in the world so we have to make sure he doesn’t get many balls,” said Klopp.

“Against City, if you close Haaland down with too many players you open up gaps for all the other world-class players. It doesn’t make life easier.”

Injuries mount up for Liverpool

Trent Alexander-Arnold
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s form this season has been questionable, but he will still be a big miss for Liverpool

The Reds have several injury problems. Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is sidelined, although left-back Andy Robertson could return after a few games out.

Forward Luis Diaz will be out for up to two months – and centre-back Joel Matip is injured too.

Midfielders Curtis Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Arthur Melo – who has only played once since his loan move from Juventus – are all out as well.

However, these problems are not as bad as the 2020-21 season which saw them lose nearly every centre-back to injury.

City have issues too – with England trio Kyle Walker, John Stones and Kalvin Phillips all absent through injury.

Are Liverpool even in title race?

Premier League top four and Liverpool

Liverpool boss Klopp has already conceded, just eight games into the Premier League season, that they are “not in the title race”.

“The title is not our problem at the moment – we have other problems,” he said.

But Liverpool won the 2019-20 championship and picked up more than 90 points in three of the past four seasons.

Guardiola, when asked if Liverpool were still their main title rivals, said: “Always have been, always it is, and will be.

“If I answered this question with five or 10 games left I’d say I think Liverpool cannot catch the top of the league – in this case Arsenal – but being in the position we are and with the World Cup still to come, everything can happen.

“The opinion I have about this team does not change because of their situation in the table.”

No team has ever won the Premier League title after trailing by 14 or more points at any stage of the season.

Only five teams – including Liverpool twice – have ever won the English top flight having picked up 10 points or fewer after eight games (factored into three points for a win).

Those five are the Reds in 1905-06 and 1981-82, Sunderland in 1912-13, Manchester City in 1936-37 and Derby in 1974-75.

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