Home News Why Darwin Nunez vs. “generous” centre-back could decide Liverpool vs. Man City

Why Darwin Nunez vs. “generous” centre-back could decide Liverpool vs. Man City

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There will be key battles all over the pitch when Liverpool host Man City, with Darwin Nunez likely to come up against a centre-back in “generous” form.

Liverpool go into Sunday’s top-of-the-table Premier League with a one-point advantage over City, so a win either way will be huge.

This has become the most high-quality league fixture of this era and the weekend promises to be another spectacular occasion.

With the biggest match of the season almost upon us, Henry Jackson spoke to City fan and writer Simon Curtis (@bifana_bifana) to discuss a thrilling season, the key battles and much more.

 

What sort of form are Man City in currently?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The last two league games have produced good results and great performances – 6-2 at Luton and the 3-1 hammering of Man United.

Man City are undefeated since a loss at Aston Villa in early December, but there remains a suspicion that it is still not quite clicking.

The ratio of chances created to goals scored still needs to come down and the number of scary moments at the back also needs to be reduced.

Having said that, since the return of Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland, City have been carrying more of a threat and looking better balanced.

 

Just how big a difference has Kevin De Bruyne made?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 6, 2023: Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne during the FA Community Shield match between Manchester City FC and Arsenal FC at Wembley Stadium. Arsenal won 4-1 on penalties. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

De Bruyne was off-colour against United, but overall, the difference he makes is significant.

There is always more time, more space and a greater range of passing options through midfield when he is involved.

Although he came back with an immediate bang against Newcastle, some of the games since have been a little lacking.

Despite this, his presence in the side always carries the threat of producing something that few players in the Premier League can come up with.

 

Who have been the star men for City this season? And has anyone struggled?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, November 7, 2023: Manchester City's Phil Foden during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Manchester City FC and BSC Young Boys at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Phil Foden is the standout so far. He is in sparkling form and full of attacking menace, as showcased against United. He has come of age as one of the team leaders.

As ever, Rodri’s metronomic presence is the heartbeat of the side. Disrupt his influence and you have a chance.

Kyle Walker’s off-field troubles have not stopped him from having a great season so far – full of pace and purpose flying down the right flank, and as ever, one of the best in Europe for recovering lost ground when tracking counter-attacking opposition.

 

What are your thoughts on Jurgen Klopp’s resignation?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Manchester City's manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola (R) shakes hands with Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

No one can last the pace and pressure of the Premier League forever. Jurgen Klopp‘s a full-on sort of fellow and it is hardly surprising his batteries are running low.

The same thing happened to a fair few of the Liverpool squad, tasked with playing the football Klopp wanted.

As with all great coaches, replacing him will be fraught with danger.

City will face the same dilemma with Guardiola, and both clubs only have to look at the Premier League‘s ex-dominant force to see how tricky this transition can be.

 

Do you think Guardiola will follow suit soon?

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Friday, August 11, 2023: Manchester City's manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Manchester City FC at Turf Moor. Man City won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I do. Pressure and time are catching up on him, just as they have caught up with Klopp.

We as observers can only wonder at the debilitating effect of constant limelight, intolerable pressure and total lack of hiding places that the Premier League engenders.

It is impossible to know how this affects a person over a long period of time, but I imagine it is quite draining.

Being at the top is also addictive – a drug Guardiola’s intense character must find difficult to do without – so who knows?

The other factor may be any possible punishment awaiting City. If they are demoted, for example, Guardiola may feel the need to stay on and show solidarity.

 

Looking ahead to Sunday, where will the key battles take place?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez sees his shot saved by Manchester City's goalkeeper Ederson Santana de Moraes during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Foden will need close watching down City’s right flank, and if he is faced by one of Liverpool’s crop of youngsters, that might be fun.

Although Haaland’s form has been far from last season’s levels, he should have a good battle with Virgil van Dijk.

Alexis Mac Allister‘s tussle with Rodri to gain control of midfield will be one to watch, too, and if Diaz is stationed down the left, there should be some high-speed antics with Walker.

Although anything can happen with Darwin Nunez, Ruben Dias has been in a generous mood at the back, so there could be sparks there.

Bernardo Silva might have trouble getting sustenance from the Anfield tea lady too, although he should be able to outrun her, given she will be in charge of a trolley!

 

Just how significant do you think the game feels?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Liverpool players form a pre-match team huddle during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Arsenal are making this a three-way title fight, but not season-defining.

Neither Liverpool nor City feel like they are 100 percent on it yet, while Arsenal are flying – but are they flying too early once again?

For City, it is a pair of pivotal games, as Arsenal are up next after the Anfield fixture.

We have the big-match, title-winning experience, but are they as hungry as Liverpool and Arsenal?

 

Go on then, hit us with your prediction…

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Liverpool's Luis Diaz (R) is challenged by Manchester City's Phil Foden during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool 2-2 Man City.