Gaël Clichy v Sadio Mane
This looks to be the biggest mismatch on the pitch. Manchester City have struggled at the back all year and Guardiola has not settled on a back four. Recently he has been using regular left back Kolarov as a center back as the Stones/Otamendi partnership has not proved good enough. This has meant Frenchman Clichy has been back in the side as the left back.
Liverpool’s man of the season has been summer signing from Southampton, Senegal forward Sadio Mane. His obvious attributes have been much praised; frightening pace, tight direct running with the ball, clinical finishing. A part of his game that has gone under appreciated is his decision-making. Very rarely do you see him shooting when he should have passed or the reverse. This has meant he clocked up 5 assists and has helped improve the performances of Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino.
Liverpool will look to exploit their best player against City’s worst. I would expect to see Lallana coming over to double up on the Frenchman and right back Nathaniel Clyne getting forward whenever he can to overwhelm City’s left hand side.
The trouble for City is there is no natural way of helping Clichy out. If Toure or Fernandinho vacate the center then Coutinho gets to control the game. Both Sane and Sterling are ill-equipped to track back and help out their left back. This promises to be the most important match up on Sunday.