Are goals to be expected as Manchester City welcome Liverpool to the Etihad?

Pundits and fans alike are expecting a goal fest at the Etihad, but do previous meetings suggest otherwise?

Are goals to be expected as Manchester City welcome Liverpool to the Etihad?
Sergio Aguero and Joel Matip battle it out last season (photo: Getty Images / Manchester City FC)

Read any selection of preview pieces for Saturday's Premier League clash between Manchester City and Liverpool, and you'll undoubtedly see prediction's along the lines of 5-3, 3-3 and 2-4.

One thing most of them will have in common, is that goals are expected.

With two of the top teams in the league meeting, both of whom are renowned for the attacking flair installed in them by their respective managers, it's not unreasonable to expect nets to bust at the Etihad.

Attack first, defend later

Under Pep Guardiola, City have only improved upon the attacking football that they've looked to play since their vastly wealthy owners took control of the ship nearly a decade ago.

Putting five past the likes of Watford, AS Monaco and West Ham United last season, City have only continued in their rich goal scoring form this season by netting in each of their opening three league games. 

Adding to that, the Sky Blues often fail to convince at the other end of the pitch. Vincent Kompany, their skipper, is talented but injury-prone, whilst neither Nicolas Otamendi or John Stones have consistently impressed at centre-back since moving to Manchester.

Liverpool have similar defensive issues, slightly worse ones at that. Although the Reds have managed seven clean-sheet's in their last Premier League games, they are prone to a collapse at the back, letting three in at Watford on the opening day and conceding two at home to Hoffenheim.

At the top of the pitch, they have no such issues. Despite having to fit five games into a gruelling 16 days schedule before the international break, Jürgen Klopp's men scored in every game, 14 in total.

Given such evidence, it would seem that goals will be on the agenda. 

Can the two teams tighten up?

Manchester City often struggle against Liverpool, having only won one of their last eight meetings against the Reds.

Liverpool have got the better of City in fairly high scoring matches in recent years, winning 3-2 in 2014 and 4-1 in 2015.

There have been plenty of goals in other games in the fixture too, with a 2-2 draw in 2013 and a 3-0 win for Liverpool in 2016.

Even City's last win against the Merseyside team saw them triumph 3-1, with four goals scored. 

However, things changed last season. 

The two teams met at Anfield on New Year's Eve, playing out a thrilling affair despite a lack of goals, the tactical battle between Klopp and Guardiola proving intriguing as Georginio Wijnaldum's early header gave Liverpool a 1-0 win. 

At that point, both sides were still in the title race, something that had changed as they traded blows in hope of a top four place come April.

Drawing 1-1 at the Etihad, the game again had less goals than billed, the two teams managing to keep their defences in tact as Sergio Aguero cancelled out a James Milner penalty. 

Just three goals between the two teams last season wasn't the expected tally, but it could happen again.

Embed from Getty Images

Big game may see less goals

Although Liverpool's defence is often criticised, it is interesting to see that they struggle more against lower sides, seemingly.

Last season they let three in at home to Swansea City, conceded four at Bournemouth and two at relegated Sunderland.

However, clean sheet's against City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur suggested that they can clean things up for the big games.

City were similar, letting just one slip in Manchester derby matches against a team that included the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Whether the two big-guns can keep that up come Saturday lunchtime remains to be seen.