Home Premier League Can Liverpool Break the Etihad Curse?

Can Liverpool Break the Etihad Curse?

by Kyle Bonagura
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To top the Premier League, Liverpool must overcome certain jinxes, and the Etihad is one of them. The Kop has only beaten Man City twice here under Jurgen Klopp. But this time, the Reds from Merseyside believe they can spring a surprise.

Breaking the Tough Etihad Spell Liverpool has been unable to win at Man City’s ground for the past five years. But this time, Klopp’s team believes they can create an upset. Man City is no longer an invincible force.

The defeats against Arsenal, Wolves, and the 4-4 draw against Chelsea have given Liverpool insights into how to hurt Man City. Klopp must also leverage his effective substitutions late in the game to make history at the Etihad.

Liverpool’s anticipated away trip to the Etihad on Saturday evening could become one of the most crucial matches for the Red Brigade this season. Currently in second place, just one point behind Man City, Liverpool can take points from Pep Guardiola’s Citizens and hinder their quest for a fourth consecutive Premier League title.

Liverpool has only beaten Manchester City twice at the Etihad under Jurgen Klopp.

However, achieving this at the Etihad, where they have struggled, is a significant challenge. Klopp was frustrated when the Premier League scheduled the high-profile clash at noon (12:30 pm UK time).

“How can you schedule a match like this at 12:30 on a Saturday? Honestly, those who make the decisions cannot feel football. It’s impossible. Is this the time the world pays the most money to watch a football match?” the German coach angrily remarked before the match.

Initially, the match was scheduled to start at 5:30 pm (12:30 am, Vietnam time), but due to safety concerns for fans, the police pushed it to an earlier time. This marks the fourth time that Liverpool has played this season at 12:30 pm.

Under Klopp, Liverpool has won 18 out of 37 games played at lunchtime on Saturdays, equivalent to a 48% win rate. Meanwhile, Man City has maintained a perfect record at the Etihad in the Premier League since the beginning of 2023: 15 matches.

The last encounter between The Kop and The Citizens at the Etihad in the Premier League was during the final stages of the previous season, where the home team defeated the visitors 4-1 with goals from Julian Alvarez, Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, and Jack Grealish.

To witness Liverpool’s victory against Man City at the Etihad, fans have to go back five years to when they defeated their opponents 2-1 in the Champions League quarter-finals before being defeated by Real Madrid in the final. The only other victory at the Etihad under Klopp came in 2015, a month after the German coach took charge at The Kop: Liverpool defeated Man City 4-1 in the Premier League.

Learning from Arsenal, Wolves, and Chelsea So, how can The Kop replicate this rare achievement at the Etihad tomorrow night? Klopp and his team will likely carefully study the footage of Man City’s recent matches against Arsenal, Wolves, and Chelsea. Man City has lost twice in the Premier League this season to Arsenal and Wolves, while Chelsea returned dramatically to secure a thrilling 4-4 draw against Pep’s team two weeks ago.

Although these matches were not at the Etihad, Klopp has much to learn, especially from the away game that Man City played against Wolves. They had 68% ball possession, took 23 shots, and had a higher expected goal count than Wolves, yet the latter emerged victorious (2-1).

One of Liverpool’s greatest strengths under Klopp is their deadly counter-attacks led by the high-speed trio of Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, and Darwin Nunez. This is a weapon that The Kop can truly use to hurt Man City at their fortress.

Deploying a high-pressing game could be key in this match. According to Opta Analyst, both Arsenal and Chelsea pressed very high, forcing Man City to launch attacks closer to their own goal. The Blues, in particular, disrupted The Citizens’ passing game and limited their open-play opportunities.

Similarly, Liverpool can prevent Man City from playing the ball to their attacking players while regaining possession and launching dangerous attacks from favorable positions. The Kop’s revamped midfield could support part of this high pressure. Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Wataru Endo, and Cody Gakpo have all made impressive contributions in the midfield this season.

Additionally, Klopp needs to leverage his substitution prowess. This could be a crucial turning point in the match. In the Europa League 2023/24, the German coach introduced many young players into the game to change the dynamics. He may need to do something similar to tire out Man City’s defenders towards the end of the match.

One of Klopp’s wildcard options is Luis Diaz. The 26-year-old forward rescued Liverpool from a draw in the 1-1 match against Luton before scoring two late goals to help Colombia come from behind and win 2-1 against Brazil.

Especially with a knack for scoring late goals, Klopp can bring on this 26-year-old player from the bench to continue pressuring Man City until the final minutes.

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