Manchester City vs Liverpool: League Cup Preview & Potential Line-ups
Etihad Stadium forms the backdrop for a behemoth League Cup fourth-round tie between Manchester City and Liverpool.
Thursday's fixture in Manchester pits the reigning Premier League champions and the defending League Cup holders against each other, promising a spectacle for neutrals.
First-half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland fired Man City to a comfortable 2-0 win over La Liga strugglers Girona in their only mid-season friendly.
However, Pep Guardiola's side capped off their pre-World Cup domestic proceedings in a disturbing fashion, losing 2-1 to Brentford in the Premier League.
With five points separating them from league leaders Arsenal, the back-to-back champions can ill-afford a slip-up during the festive period, and Thursday's game will serve to prepare them for the upcoming challenges.
On the other hand, Liverpool bounced back from a lackluster 3-1 defeat to Lyon in their first warm-up outing this winter by dispatching Serie A champions AC Milan 4-1 last time out.
Jurgen Klopp's team had hit a purple patch on the stroke of the World Cup break, stringing together five straight wins in all competitions, including a penalty triumph over Derby County in the last League Cup round.
Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez were on the scoresheet beyond halftime as Man City thumped Chelsea in the previous round to set up their eighth League Cup tie against Liverpool.
However, the Cityzens have only won once in their seven all-time H2Hs in the competition (D3, L3), courtesy of a 3-2 victory in the 1969/79 third round, emphasizing the size of the task at hand.
On top of that, Man City's only previous League Cup encounter against the Reds as holders featured an embarrassing 4-0 defeat in 1995, while they've lost both this season's clashes by an aggregate score of 4-1.
Despite beating City 1-0 in the Premier League earlier this season, that triumph came at Anfield, while Liverpool's recent fortunes at the Etihad tell a different story.
Except for a 3-2 win in last season's FA Cup semifinals, the Reds have gone winless in six of their last seven domestic visits to Man City (D3, L3), conceding 2+ goals in five.
Against this backdrop, the Merseyside heavyweights have kept a clean sheet seven times across their last eight League Cup games, including four on the trot ahead of this trip.
Manchester City vs Liverpool Potential Line-ups
Manchester City (4-3-3): Stefan Ortega; Rico Lewis, Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake, Sergio Gomez; Cole Palmer, Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne; Riyad Mahrez, Erling Haaland, Jack Grealish.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Caoimhin Kelleher; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Nat Phillips, Kostas Tsimikas; Harvey Elliott, Thiago Alcantara, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Fabio Carvalho.