Jürgen Klopp can do what Pep Guardiola has never managed as Liverpool bids to end 25-game run

Liverpool can't afford even a hint of post-international break rust on Saturday as Manchester City welcomes it back to the Premier League in what is surely the toughest fixture in the competition's calendar.

The game, scheduled for 12.30 UK time — much to Jürgen Klopp's chagrin — pits the league leader and reigning champion in City against the side currently second in Liverpool, and thus has the feel of a vital early chapter in the title race.

The Reds should look at this game as an opportunity to demonstrate, both through their performance and the end-result, that they are genuine title contenders again after slipping to fifth in a miserable 2022/23 season.

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Victory would take them two points clear at the top of the table, but these are the hardest three points to come by. City hasn't lost a game at the Etihad for over a year, stretching back to Brentford's 2-1 smash-and-grab victory immediately before the World Cup break. Its unbeaten run on home soil now spans 25 games and it has won the last 21.

Liverpool, meanwhile, hasn't won on any of its last six visits to City, five in the Premier League and one in the Carabao Cup. Its last victory in M11 came in the second leg of the 2017/18 Champions League quarter-finals, when Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino netted to secure a 2-1 victory on the night and a 5-1 triumph on aggregate.

For the last league win there, you have to go back a full eight years to November 2015, and Klopp's eighth game in charge of the club — a 4-1 success when Manuel Pellegrini was still the City manager. Since then, Liverpool has drawn three and lost four of its seven trips, scoring just seven goals and conceding 19.

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Twice before the Reds have traveled to City in the midst of a title battle between the two sides, but Klopp hasn't been able to win on either occasion. In 2019, the host prevailed in a 2-1 classic that turned the tide in the title race and in 2022, the two teams played out a 2-2 draw that kept Pep Guardiola's men a point ahead.

This isn't a criticism by any means given the unparalleled difficulty of coming out on top — Guardiola hasn't managed to win at Anfield when the two teams have been in direct competition either — but it does feel like a missing piece for Klopp, a manager who's achieved virtually everything at Liverpool both in terms of silverware and landmark victories against big rivals.

Saturday offers a chance to change that, but Klopp already knows that his players will have to produce a perfect performance to stand a chance.

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