Dietmar Hamann expects Liverpool to find Manchester City harder to beat this afternoon than earlier in the season – but feels their strong record in such matches gives ample reason for confidence.
The Reds were 1-0 winners over Pep Guardiola’s team on the final day of 2016, with Georginio Wijnaldum’s early header at Anfield ultimately enough to take the points.
They have since defeated Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal on home soil, and claimed a draw with runaway Premier League leaders Chelsea, to preserve an unbeaten record in meetings with all of their nearest rivals in the table this season.
City have not lost any of their last six league games, which have included four clean sheets, and will be determined to respond to the disappointment of their Champions League elimination earlier this week.
“Some of the games and results we’ve had against the top teams this season have been phenomenal,” former Reds midfielder Hamann told Liverpoolfc.com.
“We’re top between all the teams, even ahead of Chelsea. It shows that on the big occasion the team is there, they perform and produce the goods. Hopefully it’ll be the same against City.
“To keep a clean sheet in the first game was a tremendous effort, because to shut that team out, I don’t think many teams will manage it this season.
“That was halfway there to win the game. It’ll be even harder at the Etihad, but sometimes when you come up against those teams you’ve got to produce your best.
“If you want to get a result against City, you know you’ve got to be on top of your game. We’ve done it once, why can’t we do it twice?”
No side in the Premier League has scored more goals than Liverpool’s 60 so far this season and Jürgen Klopp oversaw a sensational 4-1 victory in the corresponding fixture last term.
But Hamann believes defensive diligence will be imperative for his old club at the Etihad Stadium if they are to prevent City’s attacking riches from deciding the game.
The German said: “Raheem Sterling is obviously familiar with the Premier League. He has showed for a few years now what he is capable of.
“That’s what Pep did at Bayern Munich, he improves players, and that’s what he did with Sterling. Sterling did things this season which I haven’t seen him do before.
“Leroy Sane, I know from Germany, he is a hugely talented player. Sometimes he lacks a little bit of belief. It seems to be coming now and he is getting a bit more confident.
“In [Sergio] Aguero and [Gabriel] Jesus, who came at Christmas, they have got two fantastic centre-forwards. Throw David Silva into the mix, [Yaya] Toure who is back in favour, Kevin de Bruyne… you’ve got a wealth of talent. It takes a lot to stop them.”