Life After Phil
How will Liverpool cope against leaders’ Manchester City without Coutinho?
Philippe Coutinho was finally granted his wish, leaving Merseyside for the sunnier climes of Barcelona, so it will be fascinating to see how Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool cope without him.
The Reds will face one of their toughest assignments of the season on Sunday when Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City make the short trip to Anfield. It’s the pick of the GW23 action and the Reds will no doubt still be smarting from the 5-0 hammering they suffered at the Etihad back in September but do they have enough in their locker to trouble the runaway leaders?
Sadio Mané was sent off in that clash but Klopp will need the Senegalese attacker to be in top form on Sunday and will also be hoping that Roberto Firmino is available for selection and not punished with any FA action following the allegations that surrounded his unsavoury incident with Mason Holgate in the Reds’ FA victory over Everton last Friday.
Mo Salah is expected to be passed fit for the hosts so that certainly increases the likelihood of goals but despite this, the Citizens have been installed as favourites by the bookmakers so it will be fascinating to see what sort of impact Virgil van Dijk makes, marshalling Liverpool’s new look defence.
City left it late before seeing off Bristol City in the 1st leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final tie on Tuesday, while the Reds, who are likely to need every advantage they can get, have had the luxury of a mini winter break in Dubai to prepare for this one.
GW23 is rounded off when Manchester United entertain Stoke City in the Monday Night Football. The Red Devils have also been over to Dubai for some warm weather training and it could be a long night for a Stoke City side that has conceded 47 times in the Premier League already this season, prompting them to part ways with manager Mark Hughes, whose fate was finally sealed by Saturday’s FA Cup loss to Coventry City.
The small matter of the FA Cup has meant that Fantasy Premier League managers have had to wait a couple of weeks to get their fix – will that Dubai sun work wonders for Liverpool and Manchester United?