To Jurgen Klopp's chagrin, Liverpool occupy a spot in the Saturday lunchtime Premier League kickoff following the international break, as the Reds take on Manchester City in a top-of-the-table spectacular at the Etihad.
Pep Guardiola's treble winners are only one point clear of their Merseyside counterparts heading into the weekend's headline fixture, although the hosts' winning streak came to an end in phenomenal circumstances two weekends ago.
With all of Cole Palmer, Raheem Sterling and Mateo Kovacic reuniting with their old employers at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago - having each opted for a different shade of blue since the end of the 2021-22 season - scripts were already written for one member of the triumvirate to become the hero in West London.
While Sterling did haunt his old club with Chelsea's second goal on the evening, it was Palmer who drove the dagger deeper into the hearts of the Citizens faithful, keeping his composure from the penalty spot in the fifth minute of second-half injury time to conclude an eight-goal extravaganza.
Despite netting four times through an Erling Haaland brace, Manuel Akanji header and deflected Rodri strike, Guardiola's men lost their five-game victorious sequence in that mesmerising 4-4 stalemate, one which saw them enter the third hiatus of the season just one point clear at the summit.
Both upcoming opponents Liverpool and Arsenal are on the coat-tails of the reigning champions, who could also be caught by Tottenham Hotspur or Aston Villa depending on the result of their intriguing battle on Sunday, but bagging a quartet of strikes at Stamford Bridge at least means that the Citizens have scored at least three times in each of their last five contests.
Furthermore, no English team to visit the Etihad in the Premier League this year has emerged with their pride intact, as since a 1-1 draw with Everton on New Year's Eve 2022, Man City have posted a sensational 15 wins from 15 top-flight home matches in 2023, while their overall winning streak in front of the home crowd stands at 23 matches in all tournaments.
A piece of English football history is also on the line for Man City, who could equal Sunderland's long-standing record of 24 successive home wins set between 1890 and 1892, which only serves as an added incentive for a revitalised Liverpool to right their recent wrongs in this fixture.
After ceding their best-of-the-rest label to Arsenal last year, Liverpool once again make the short trip to the Etihad as Man City's closest challengers for glory - albeit by virtue of scoring just one more goal than the Gunners - and they have Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota to thank for their current silver medal position.
It would not be a Liverpool home win without a couple of goalkeeping heroics from Alisson Becker, who would never have expected a quiet afternoon against Brentford, but the Reds' defence stood tall and witnessed Salah bag a landmark brace before Jota's sublime curler completed the job in front of the Kop.
Coming up with the required response to a disappointing draw with Luton Town and dampening defeat to Toulouse, the next priority on Klopp's agenda is to improve a meagre record of just one win from five on the road for Liverpool, who have failed to prevail in any of their last three top-flight away contests and have not kept a Premier League clean sheet on their travels since May.
Such defensive vulnerabilities have reared their ugly heads for Liverpool in their last two trips to the Etihad, where their EFL Cup crown was ripped from their grasp in a 3-2 defeat last December before a 4-1 pummelling in April, and not since November 2015 - in Klopp's eighth game in charge - have the Reds left the Etihad with a Premier League win to shout about.
The Citizens faithful have been awaiting updates on Erling Haaland's condition with bated breath, as the Golden Boot winner missed Norway's final Euro 2024 qualifier with Scotland owing to an ankle problem akin to the one he sustained in City's recent success over Bournemouth.
Ederson is in the same boat with his own foot concern, while Nathan Ake (knock), Mateo Kovacic (thigh) and Sergio Gomez (ankle) will also need assessing closer to the time, but Kevin De Bruyne (hamstring), John Stones (thigh) and Matheus Nunes - who was declared "clinically unfit" while on duty with Portugal - are set to watch on from the sidelines.
While Julian Alvarez is a more than capable deputy for Haaland, the Argentina international is one of several South American representatives facing tight turnaround times, and Haaland is said to be increasingly confident that he will be fit to lead the line for the champions this weekend having trained ahead of the contest.
Similarly, the Liverpool medical team must also make late calls on a number of players, namely Ryan Gravenberch (knee), Joe Gomez (knock), Curtis Jones (hamstring) and Ibrahima Konate (hamstring), although all four have trained with the team ahead of the crunch contest.
However, all of Thiago Alcantara (hip), Stefan Bajcetic (calf) and Andrew Robertson (shoulder) will not be at Klopp's disposal, and the Reds boss will need to conduct once-overs on his South American troupe of Luis Diaz, Alisson, Darwin Nunez and Alexis Mac Allister, the latter of whom is also back from suspension.
While there is nothing to suggest that the quartet will not be involved at the Etihad, Klopp may keep Nunez and Diaz in reserve as Jota and Cody Gakpo link arms with Salah, who registered his 200th goal in English football against Brentford and needs just one more to hit the 150 mark in the Premier League.
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Dias, Gvardiol; Silva, Rodri, Foden; Doku, Haaland, Grealish
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Szoboszlai, Mac Allister, Gravenberch; Salah, Jota, Gakpo
We say: Manchester City 3-1 Liverpool
With fresh concerns arising for both teams during the international period and key players trying to fight off jet lag to prove their fitness, neither side may be at their free-flowing best in the lunchtime kickoff, but another miserable Manchester afternoon surely awaits the men in red.
While breaching opposing backlines comes naturally to Klopp's team no matter what turf they step out onto, not a single Premier League team has prevented Man City from coming up trumps at the Etihad in 2023, and with Haaland expected to be given the green light to terrorise a Reds defence without a top-flight clean sheet on the road this term, we side with the champions on this occasion.
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