Andy Hunter had a conversation with Allison this week. Here's his interview:
Last season we had a great experience, almost a perfect season. We lost one game and that one was against City. We know how great this game is for us. We know how great the game is for everyone – for them and for our fans. In the end those are just three important points, but Manchester City has been the best team in the league for the past few years, so we need to do our best to win this match. We don't want to feel like we did last season. Being second with just one point means we know we have to do everything in every match if we want to become champions in the Premier League. We love it and we will try to do it.
Much more here:
So, Ederson, as advertised, is missing and Claudio Bravo starts in place behind the back four of Walker-Stones-Fernandino-Angelino. Otherwise, the teams look completely surprising.
Team news is, and here's the protagonist this afternoon:
Liverpool: Allison, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dyke, Robertson, Henderson, Fabino, Vinyldum, Salah, Fermino, Manet. Subscriptions: Millner, Kita, Gomez, Adrian, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lalana, Origi.
Man City: Bravo, Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Jose Angelino, De Bruin, Rodri, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Aguero, Sterling. Subscriptions: Gabriel Jesus, Silva, Mahrez, aoao Cancello, Otamendi, Carson, Hoden.
Judge: Michael Oliver.
And here's Pep Guardiola:
I've never entered a game feeling like an outsider or a minor, thinking I wouldn't win. I'm not going to take the bus to Liverpool, thinking I'll lose the game. That has never happened in my career. I always try to believe that if we do the special things we plan to do, we will have a chance to win.
Much more here:
Here's Barney Rhone think before the match:
There is also something different about the structure of this injury-depleted city team. Guardiola wants the midfield, wants to turn the whole world of a midfield player shadow, ideally replacing the word "midfielder" with the word footballer. Three months into the season, this team passed the midfielder. Seven midfielders have scored in the league. Eight midfielders have started five league games, or more, compared to three career saves.
Much more here:
I have a lot of reading ahead of the game for you. Honestly, tell everyone in the room to leave for an hour or so, because you'll be too busy looking at your phone / tablet / other device to communicate in any meaningful way. First of all: Mane-Fermino-Salah or Sterling-Aguero-who? That's the question:
And welcome to the first game of the Premier League play-off this season! Both teams will certainly look forward to some original competition, far from the 36 mildly celebrated irritating friendships that take up most of their home visits. Whoever wins this one will take advantage of the second game, scheduled for the weekend of April 4, although City's nine-point deficit will be sustained if it loses, with Liverpool's repeated refusal to be beaten under any circumstances, it could to do it immaterial.
As we wait for the teams, there's a bit of a memory path to previous matches between these teams at Anfield after Pep Guardiola joined Jurgen Klopp in England:
Last year's league game ended without goals thanks to a missed penalty by Riyadh Mahrez:
The teams played at Anfield twice in 2017-18, with the first to end City's race of 30 undefeated league games:
And the second goes a long way in stopping his chances in the Champions League (it was the first game, but no one gives a 3-0 lead in the first leg, except for Barcelona):
And finally, on New Year's Eve 2016, Liverpool's victory has given them renewed hope of catching the runaway Chelsea leaders:
And if that's not enough, keep some of this: