There have been no directives from Fifa, football’s world governing body, to prepare for the conditions, but, for the past two weeks, Webb has reported to this temperature-controlled chamber and pushed himself to the limits of his physical fitness.
The chamber has been set to 40C with 80% humidity as Webb begins the first of 20 sprints, each 150m in distance.
It is brutal to watch, but he would not have it any other way.
“I want to be as prepared as I can,” he says. “Coming to the chamber here gives me that chance. If it gives me a small advantage, if it means I can perform to my potential there, then why not do it?”
You may not love Webb as an official, but I’ll take this guy’s preparation over many others. That isn’t to say other officials aren’t grinding out workouts in their own personal saunas, but it’s easy to forget just how many folks have to be on their physical, mental and emotional A-games for the tournament.
Pep Guardiola’s Man City can momentarily cut the gap to leaders Arsenal to five points but there are question marks swirling around the fitness of goalscoring machine Erling Haaland heading into this game. City are looking for a three-peat of Premier League titles and five in the last six seasons, but Arsenal don’t look like they’re going to slip up anytime soon. So City can’t afford to either. They’ve won six in a row in all competitions, scoring 23 and conceding once in that run. We all know they love to kick on at this point of the campaign, so let’s see if they can do it again.
As for Liverpool, well, it has been one step forward and one step back pretty much all season long for Jurgen Klopp’s side. After their 7-0 shellacking of Manchester United, they then lost at Bournemouth to infuriate Klopp and their fans further. The front three of Salah, Nunez and Gakpo are all clicking through the gears nicely but Liverpool have to become more consistent and dominant games in midfield if they’re going to close the gap to the current top four. They’ve had success against City in recent years as their contrasting style of play match up well but this seems like a different, more fragile, Liverpool this season.
How to watch Manchester City vs Liverpool live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 7:30am ET, Saturday TV Channel: Peacock Online: Stream via Peacock Premium
Key storylines & in-form players to watch
The fitness of Haaland is obviously a huge concern for City as he suffered a groin issue and did not play for Norway over the international break and returned to Manchester for treatment. If he isn’t fit to start then expect Julian Alvarez to come in. Elsewhere, City are flying with Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gunodgan having a big role to play with Phil Foden out following his Appendectomy. As always, Kevin de Bruyne is the main man and will relish this chance to cut Arsenal’s lead atop the table.
Liverpool just can’t find consistency right now. They have improved defensively but they are a real Jekyll and Hyde team. Jurgen Klopp isn’t a fan of that and showed his frustration after their defeat at Bournemouth, which was their last Premier League game and was way back on March 11. He’s had a few weeks to stew over that loss and it will be intriguing to see what plan he has come up with. For this game as earlier this season Liverpool beat Man City 1-0 at Anfield by playing a front four which pinned City in.
Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options
QUESTIONABLE: Erling Haaland (groin) | OUT: Phil Foden (appendix removed)
Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Calvin Ramsay (knee), Stefan Bajcetic (groin) | QUESTIONABLE: Luis Diaz (knee), Darwin Nunez (ankle), Kostas Tsimikas (rib), Thiago Alcantara (hip), Joe Gomez (undisclosed)
He has scored 42 (yes, forty two) goals in all competitions for Man City this season.
However, Pep Guardiola and Man City now face an anxious wait as an injury to Erling Haaland is the last thing they wanted before a pivotal final few months of the season as they chase the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble.
Norway’s team doctor, Ola Sand, gave an update on Haaland’s injury.
“We hoped that this was just a familiarity that would carry over to Saturday, but after doing tests and examinations yesterday it became clear that he will not make it to the games against Spain and Georgia,” Sand said. “It is better that he receives medical follow-up at the club.”
Norway face Spain on Saturday and Georgia next Tuesday, so it seems like Haaland is in a race to be fit for Man City’s games after the international break.
Which games could he miss?
After the international break Man City are playing in the first game of the weekend as they host Liverpool on Saturday, Apr. 1 at the Etihad Stadium.
It seems like Haaland could be struggling to be fully fit for that game, and maybe even the trip to Southampton on Apr. 8, so Pep Guardiola may choose to rest him for their massive UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Bayern Munich on Apr. 11.
Given the form Haaland is in right now, it will be a blow for City if he does miss the next few games but the last thing they want is any long-term damage. Plus, it’s helpful to have the likes of World Cup winner Julian Alvarez in reserve to step in for Haaland.
With nine teams currently separated by four points, from 20th to 12th places, the 2022-23 Premier League relegation scrap is not only set to last until the final day, but the final two months of the season are sure to be one of the wildest roller-coaster rides of all time.
Three clubs will be relegated from the Premier League (and replaced by three teams from the EFL Championship, of course) at season’s end. Never before have this many clubs been this close to the bottom-three, and the bottom of the table, at this point of a season.
How many games remaining between relegation candidates?
There are 23 remaining head-to-head matchups between the nine teams currently in the relegation battle.
Crystal Palace: 8 games (1 against every other team)
Wolves: 4 games
Leeds: 5 games
Everton: 4 games
Nottingham Forest: 4 games
Leicester: 6 games
West Ham: 5 games
Bournemouth: 6 games
Southampton: 4 games
Ever Wonder where the Leicester title-winning team is now?
With odds of 5000-1 to win the Premier League title in 2015-16, Leicester City pulled off one of the greatest shocks in sports history.
But have you ever wondered ‘hey, what is that Leicester team up to now? What happened to them?’
Club legends and captains
After captaining them to FA Cup glory and being the main man in recent years, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel left Leicester in 2022 and is now starring for Nice in France.
Right back Danny Simpson, center backs Robert Huth and Wes Morgan and left back Christian Fuchs have all retired with the latter playing for Charlotte FC in MLS in 2022.
Morgan lifting the Premier League trophy alongside beloved manager Claudio Ranieri, who is still coaching in Italy in Serie B with Cagliari, is an image that is in sporting folklore.
Superstars move on to even more glory
In midfield, N’Golo Kante has gone on to win the Premier League again and Champions League, among other trophies, with Chelsea. Internationally – he started every game for France as they won the World Cup in 2018.
His midfield partner at Leicester – Danny Drinkwater – also joined Chelsea, but is currently without a club after loan moves across the Premier League, Turkey and the Championship.
Winger Riyad Mahrez is a star at Manchester City, winning three more Premier League titles, while on the other wing, Marc Albrighton left Leicester on loan in January 2023 for West Bromwich Albion in the Championship but is still contracted to the club.
Veterans still plugging away and one continues to party…
Striker Shinji Okazaki is playing in Belgium for Sint-Truiden, while fellow forward Leonardo Ulloa retired after spells in Mexico and Spain.
Meanwhile – veteran striker Jamie Vardy is of course still at Leicester, and will forever go down as a club legend.
He played a key part in their FA Cup triumph and recent European exploits, and won the Premier League Golden Boot award three years ago. He never misses a party.
As for the other key contributors off the bench, Demarai Gray is at Everton, Jeffrey Schlupp is at Crystal Palace, Ben Chilwell is at Chelsea and is England’s second-choice left back, Richie de Laet is still playing at Royal Antwerp, Andy King is at Bristol City and Nathan Dyer has retired.
Wherever they are now, this group of players will always be known as the team who pulled off one of the greatest upsets the sporting world has ever seen.