Liverpool host Manchester City in what is poised to be a blockbuster affair at Anfield as the Reds look to extend their unbeaten run over Pep Guardiola’s side to four matches.
Gary Neville has outlined the battle between Erling Haaland and Virgil van Dijk as the area that could determine the result of Manchester City’s trip to Liverpool on Sunday.
It is massive game at Anfield as the reigning Premier League champions travel to a Liverpool team who have struggled for form so far this season. Jurgen Klopp’s side currently sit 10th in the table, having won just two of their opening eight matches.
Meanwhile, City are the only unbeaten team in the top five division’s in English football and have made a flying start to the season, picking up 23 points from a possible 27 available. Their talisman, Haaland, has already hit 20 goals for the season from just 12 matches and is arguably the most in form player in the world at the moment.
Haaland struck his third hat-trick for City in their 6-3 win over Manchester United earlier in the month, after scoring trebles against Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace back in August. Neville has hinted that Van Djik must be at his best to stop Haaland from finding his feet.
Neville told Sky Sports: “On City first, I still think that no matter what form Liverpool are in, where they are, that will still feel like on Sunday the toughest game they’re going to face [this season]. Their record at Anfield, how difficult it is there for every single team.
“And, at the end of the day, you know what I feel about those two clubs, but you can’t help but think [about] Haaland versus Van Dijk. You just can’t stop thinking about how that’s gonna play out.
“You know, the best centre-back in the world for the last three or four years, struggled a bit this season, but against this absolute phenomenon. And just how that Liverpool backline that pushes up and how that space in-behind… I’m fascinated by the game, I can’t wait for it, to be honest with you.”
Klopp, who stopped Haaland from scoring in the Community Shield, has hailed the impact the former Borussia Dortmund man has had on the Premier League since making the £51million move in the summer.
He has scored 15 times in nine league matches – but Klopp believes the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden are making him even better.
It’s not like Haaland will go all the time for Virgil van Dijk, there will be another centre-half there, and he will probably choose that then,” the Liverpool boss added.
If Haaland was alone on the pitch you would still have to defend him, he’s absolutely incredible. He’s a monster in the best understanding. But with exceptional players around him, that’s what makes it so special. How they set him up in those moments is really special.
“It’s not possible to only mark Haaland and let the rest of Manchester City do what they want. If we do that, then we are screwed as well.”