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Manchester City vs Liverpool: Will Salah & Mane end Klopp's winless run at the Etihad?

09:50 GMT+3 10/04/2022
Salah Mane Liverpool 2022
Neither have particularly pulled up trees against Pep Guardiola’s men in Manchester, but must turn the tide to supplant the Citizens

Much has been made of the potential title decider between Manchester City and Liverpool and for good reason. What everyone loves more than a tight title race is a close tussle between two clubs in which the sides involved face off in the run-in.

While City’s clash with the Reds on Sunday is not a final-day encounter, most neutrals will reckon the gameweek 31 clash between teams seperated by one point is preferable to the 2018/19 season when the second meeting between both clubs was held in January 2019.

Pep Guardiola’s troops claimed a 2-1 success, a game perhaps remembered for John Stones’ goal-line clearance, but what followed was a run-in where there was little drama.

For the neutral, an encounter between both clubs so late in the season is just what the doctor ordered, but are supporters expecting too much from Sunday evening owing to the relative one-sidedness of this particular fixture?

Regardless of Liverpool’s transformation into of Europe’s top sides and undoubtedly a relentless winning machine under Jurgen Klopp, wins at the Etihad Stadium have been few and far between. This is despite the acquisitions of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, who joined the Reds in 2016 and 2017 respectively and have been tremendously good for the Reds in the last half-decade or thereabouts.

Neither were at the club in November 2015 when the Merseyside outfit thrashed Manuel Pellegrini’s Citizens 4-1, with goals from Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Martin Skrtel following an Eliaquim Mangala own goal.

The following six games have witnessed only four goals from Liverpool, with the last five involving Mane and Salah seeing the Reds score three just three times at the Etihad.

With only one goal between them in those games, GOAL takes a closer look at the African marksmen’s performances over the last four Premier League clashes in Manchester.

Man City 5-0 Liverpool (2017/18)

The Reds went into the gameweek four fixture having claimed seven points from an available nine, with eight goals scored and only three conceded.

Mane had netted three times—one each against Watford, Crystal Palace and Arsenal—whereas Salah’s two goals and a sole assist meant the pair were backed to surprise the title favourites on home turf.

Despite falling behind to a Sergio Aguero goal, the Reds posed an attacking threat…until their Senegal attacker received a red card for a dangerous play involving Ederson in the 37th minute.

They fell apart afterwards and Pep’s team netted four more times to thrash the Merseyside outfit 5-0.

Salah was replaced at half-time with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replacing the Egypt superstar.

What might have been had Mane’s dismissal never happened?

Man City 2-1 Liverpool (2018/19)

2019 started with a top of the table clash involving these giants who tussled on January 3, with the Reds travelling to Manchester holding a seven-point lead over Pep’s side.

They fell to a 2-1 loss which saw the Cityzens reduce the gap to four points, but the outcome could have been different had Mane scored his one-v-one with Ederson in the 18th minute having been played through by Salah.

The ex-Southampton man hit the post and the resulting confusion led to John Stones’ goal-line clearance with Liverpool’s Egyptian also ready to pounce.

Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane scored either side of a Roberto Firmino equaliser to seal an important victory for Pep’s men who went on to claim the title by one point at season’s end.

Man City 4-0 Liverpool (19/20)

Liverpool had been crowned champions by the time they travelled to the Etihad in July 2020 and received a guard of honour from the deposed champions before kick-off.

Guardiola’s troops thrashed Klopp’s men 4-0 but, yet again, the game could have gone a different way had Mane not badly misdirected a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross off target after 11 minutes or had Salah not hit the post eight minutes later.

Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring from the spot and the home side did not look back, netting three more times from Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and a Chamberlain own-goal to seal another heavy Liverpool defeat at the Etihad.

Man City 1-1 (2020/21)

Last season’s meeting in Manchester was a rather humdrum affair where both sides seemed unwilling to give too much away.

It ended 1-1, although the non-penalty Expected Goals of 0.8-0.6 validates how few quality chances were created by both sides at the Etihad.

Salah netted his first league goal against the Citizens away from home when he beat Ederson from 12 yards to open the scoring for Klopp’s men after 13 minutes. This was wiped out by Gabriel Jesus’ leveller at the half-hour mark and it stayed that way till full-time, despite the Belgium superstar missing the target from a penalty just before the interlude.

While Mane did not score or assist, he had one of his better games at City, completing three dribbles from as many attempts and also won the early penalty that was dispatched by Salah.

Try as they might, Liverpool have been unable to crack it at the Etihad since 2015, although a 2-1 Champions League success in April 2018 — in which Salah scored — offers hope for Sunday. Having said that, it has mostly been let down after let-down against Guardiola’s men who have to be considered slight favourites regardless of the Reds’ ongoing momentum.

“Mane's Etihad history, generally, is one of disappointment,” GOAL’s Liverpool correspondent Neil Jones admits. “A red card in a 5-0 defeat in September 2017 and that incredible moment in January 2019 when he hit the post when clean through, with John Stones somehow scrambling the subsequent loose ball off the line.

“He is yet to score on the ground, despite a good record against City at Anfield. Maybe Sunday is the day to change that?”

As for Salah, Jones fondly remembers how the Reds forward silenced the City supporters who hoped for a turnaround after a 3-0 hammering at Anfield.

“Salah has scored goals there, none bigger than his beautifully-clipped finish in the Champions League in 2019,” he states. “It is hard to forget the silence from the home fans, swiftly followed by the explosion from the away end. He netted a penalty in last season's 1-1 draw too, though, like Mane, his record is naturally better on home soil.”

Despite three defeats on that ground since their last win, an argument can be made that there was little jeopardy in the subsequent meetings except that 2-1 loss in January 2019.

Having said that, Klopp’s men cannot afford another setback at the home of their adversaries and the German boss will need Salah and Mane to show something different to reverse the trend of the last few years at City.

May the better team win.