3 key battles which will decide Manchester City vs Liverpool

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With the biggest game of the Premier League season coming up this weekend, Manchester City vs Liverpool (watch live, 11:30am ET on Sunday on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com) will be full of intriguing battles.

But which three battles will decide the outcome of this clash between the two title contenders?

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With City just one point above Liverpool atop the Premier League table heading into this game, we now how tight this 90 minutes at the Etihad Stadium will be.

Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are geniuses and they will likely conjure up something a little different to try and get an edge.

Below we focus on three key battles we believe we determine the outcome of this mammoth Manchester City vs Liverpool clash.


Joao Cancelo vs Mohamed Salah

This is going to be epic. Joao Cancelo has been sensational at left back for Man City this season, not only defensively but also with his marauding runs and supreme quality in the final third. His battle with Mohamed Salah down that flank will be appointment viewing and the Cancelo will be pushed to his limits defensively and his attacking output may be limited. He will also have to worry about Trent Alexander-Arnold pushing forward. That said, Cancelo likes to drift inside and create overload situations for Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne to feed off, so Salah will also have to be switched on defensively throughout. With Salah going through a little bit of a tough spell in front of goal, perhaps Cancelo has the edge going into this game. That said, remember what Salah did to Cancelo and Man City at Anfield earlier this season. Like I said, it’s going to be epic.

Kevin de Bruyne vs Fabinho

It is likely that Kevin de Bruyne either starts in central midfield as one of three, or he starts in a false nine role and drops off the forward line and back into midfield to cause havoc. Wherever he starts he will have to get the better of Fabinho. Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder has hit top form this season and is rarely outwitted in the midfield battle and mops up brilliantly in front of Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk. De Bruyne, Foden and Bernardo Silva will all be buzzing around him and he can’t afford to give KDB any space because his goals against Burnley and Atletico Madrid over the last week show the Belgian star is back to his clinical best. Also, keep an eye on Phil Foden as he could start as the false nine and he will try to drag both Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip out of their center back spot and open up space for KDB to exploit.

Kyle Walker vs Andy Robertson

What a battle this is going to be as both full backs love to push on and become an attacking player for their teams. Both Walker and Robertson have been consistently excellent and Liverpool and Man City look to them on the diagonal and encourage them to push on. That could see them cancel each other out but Robertson has come up with some big moments in this game in recent years and seems to have the slight edge over Walker. That said, any time it looks like Walker has overcommitted himself going forward he seems to get back defensively as his incredible pace is a huge asset to City when attacks break down. It is also a huge asset when going forward and if City can win the ball back with Liverpool in attack, they must be direct and play balls down the channels as Alexander-Arnold and Robertson will both likely be pushed forward.