Liverpool vs Manchester City: Three key players to look out for

The Hard Tackle lists three players who can make a positive impact when Liverpool and Manchester City clash at Anfield on Sunday.

Sunday will be a red letter day in the 2023/24 Premier League season. Two of the three favourites for the title will lock horns at Anfield as Liverpool and Manchester City go head-to-head. And a win will be paramount when eternal rivals Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola clash for the last time in the Premier League.

Jurgen Klopp will call time on his legendary stint with Liverpool when the 2023/24 season ends. The German tactician has been a game-changing appointment for the Merseyside club, re-instilling the winning feeling at Anfield. But with his spell ending in a few months, the players have stepped up their performance levels, hoping to end the campaign with four trophies.

The Reds are competing with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, with the Citizens also standing in their way in the FA Cup. Pep Guardiola’s men are vying for a second successive treble, as they are one of the contenders for the UEFA Champions League. And they are the favourites to win the Premier League, even though they are behind Liverpool.

With Arsenal leaping to the top of the Premier League table, Liverpool and Manchester City will be eager to secure all three points. So, the margin of error is negligible, meaning a few players will hold the key for both sides. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle lists three such stars whose performances can tip the scales in their team’s favour.

Darwin Nunez

Our list begins with one of the most in-form players in the world. We are not talking about Erling Haaland or Mohamed Salah. This player has turned the tide in the last few weeks and has flipped the narrative surrounding him. We are talking about Darwin Nunez.

A few months ago, the Uruguayan international was the subject of intense ridicule due to his profligacy in the final third. Nunez features in the upper echelons of the list of players who have missed the most “big chances” in the Premier League this season. But Haaland, who has fluffed his lines more than him, gets no mention during the times of ridicule.

Interestingly, Nunez has missed five fewer “big chances” than Haaland and has improved his shot conversion in the last few weeks. The 24-year-old has an excellent tally of 16 goals and 11 assists in 39 appearances across all competitions. His potential to produce high output is one of the reasons why he was a target for many high-profile clubs, including Chelsea, before he joined Liverpool.

Nunez comes into this weekend’s marquee clash on the back of a match-winning brace against Sparta Prague in the UEFA Europa League. He also scored the winner deep into injury time versus Nottingham Forest last weekend. So, with momentum behind him, one can expect the in-form striker to turn up again.


It is not often that defensive-minded players dominate such lists. But such is the nature of Sunday’s game that the performances of these players will go a long way in determining the final result. And our next candidate is Rodri.

The Spanish international has been an exceptional performer for Manchester City throughout his stint at the club. And such is his importance to the Premier League champions that they have not lost a game when he has played in an eternity.

His incredible unbeaten run stands at 60 games after Manchester City’s win over FC Copenhagen earlier this week. The streak is there for a reason, as he provides a tremendous layer of cover for a vulnerable defensive unit that has been porous for a few seasons.

So Rodri will be Pep Guardiola’s go-to man in the middle of the park for Manchester City to keep Liverpool at bay for long periods. The home side will be the biggest threat to the Spaniard’s unbeaten run. But if he rises to the occasion, that streak should continue this weekend.

Caoimhin Kelleher

Our defensive-minded list continues, ending with a rare goalkeeper pick. And while Ederson Moraes’s performance will hold the key for Manchester City, we end our feature with Caoimhin Kelleher.

The Irish goalkeeper has been exceptional since becoming a regular between the sticks after a hamstring injury forced Alisson Becker to the sidelines. Such has been his impact in the goal that the Reds have not felt the absence of the Brazilian international.

Kelleher’s performances have also compelled Jurgen Klopp to hail him as the best second-choice goalkeeper in the world. But he must play out of his skin to keep Erling Haaland, Phil Foden, and others at bay for long periods on Sunday. Expect another game-changing performance by the 25-year-old.

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