Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool v Manchester City live updates: Sergio Aguero to make return, Philippe Coutinho out

Kick-off: 5:30pm Saturday at Anfield

Sergio Aguero returns from a four-match suspension for Manchester City's Premier League trip to title rivals Liverpool on Saturday.

Top scorer Aguero has missed City's last four games after being sent off for a wild tackle on Chelsea's David Luiz earlier this month.

During his enforced break - a second suspension of the season after being hit with a three-game ban in August - Aguero has spent some time resting back at home in Argentina.

But now the 28-year-old is back and looking to add to his season's 16-goal tally in Saturday's eagerly-anticipated Premier League clash at title rivals Liverpool.

"He is ready," Guardiola said. "He came back good from Argentina - finally back after seven games banned, three games plus four - and we are happy he is back."

The New Year's Eve clash at Anfield pits third-placed City against the side immediately above them. It will also be the first time Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, two of the Premier League's elite managers and rivals from spells in Germany, have faced each other in England.

The anticipation is heightened as Liverpool are the competition's highest scorers so far this season with 45 goals, while City's 39 is the joint-second highest tally.

Guardiola attended Liverpool's 4-1 win over Stoke on Tuesday and rates the Reds as "contenders, definitely".

He added: "I was lucky to play against Jurgen Klopp. I think we know each other quite well and I saw Liverpool this year many times.

"There are six teams fighting for the title, especially for the first four positions, for the Champions League qualification. I see the contenders as really tough teams. It will be a good fight until the end of the season.

"I don't know what will happen tomorrow. We have to equal their intensity, of course. Anfield will play a big role for them."

Defender John Stones could feature despite limping off during the first half of City's hard-fought win at Hull on Boxing Day.

"John is much, much better," said Guardiola.

The Spaniard, speaking at his pre-match press conference, dismissed reports linking City with a move for Real Madrid playmaker Isco.

"I have no idea," the former Barcelona boss said.

Provisional squad: Bravo, Caballero, Zabaleta, Sagna, Stones, Otamendi, Kolarov, Adarabioyo, Clichy, Kolarov, Toure, Fernando, Fernandinho, Sterling, Navas, De Bruyne, Silva, Sterling, Nolito, Garcia, Aguero, Iheanacho.

Coutinho sidelined

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho will not be fit enough for the fixture.

The Brazil international has been out for over a month with ankle ligament damage and will not be rushed back.

A bigger blow ahead of the visit of Pep Guardiola's side is the continued absence of centre-back Joel Matip, who is set to sit out his fourth successive match because of an ankle injury.

Provisional squad: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Mane, Origi, Firmino, Karius, Moreno, Alexander-Arnold, Lucas, Can, Ejaria, Sturridge, Woodburn.

Managers

Jurgen Klopp: "This is a very big game for both. Six clubs fight for four or one position. Each game is kind of a final.

"City have the highest quality in the team and highest quality on the bench.

"The advantage is that it's at Anfield. We must try to use this. It will be really difficult for both teams.

"I'm really looking forward to it. We love playing against the best."

Pep Guardiola on Liverpool: "They are a contender for the title, definitely. I went to the game against Stoke and it was a good game.

"I was lucky enough to play against Jurgen Klopp, we know each other well.

"We have to equal their intensity - Anfield will play a big role."

Previous meetings

Title contenders and top-four rivals Liverpool and Manchester City go head-to-head at Anfield on New Year's Eve.

We look back at some of the best previous meetings.

MANCHESTER CITY 1 LIVERPOOL 4 (Premier League, November 21, 2015)

A result which highlighted just how good Liverpool could be when they got Klopp's tactics right. City, title favourites at that point, were blown away in the first half-hour as Eliaquim Mangala's own goal was followed by strikes from Brazilians Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.

The Reds did not crumble when Sergio Aguero pulled one back just before the break with Martin Skrtel smashing home the fourth but it was more the manner of the victory rather than the scoreline which was impressive.

LIVERPOOL 3 MANCHESTER CITY 2 (Premier League, April 13, 2014)

Liverpool, under Brendan Rodgers, seemingly struck a decisive blow in the title race as this victory put them in pole position against their visitors as Anfield marked the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
Raheem Sterling and Skrtel put them 2-0 up only for David Silva and Glen Johnson's own goal to level things after the break. However, the drama was not over as Coutinho fired home the winner before Jordan Henderson was shown a late red card.

MANCHESTER CITY 3 LIVERPOOL 0 (Premier League, August 23, 2010)

City put on a show for owner Sheikh Mansour, the man who spent £1billion to get them where they are, who was present at a league match for the first time to witness their biggest win over Liverpool since 1937. Gareth Barry gave the hosts an early lead before Carlos Tevez scored twice after half-time.

MANCHESTER CITY 2 LIVERPOOL 2 (Premiership, May 5 1996)

Desperately fighting to avoid relegation on the final day of the season, City fans feared the worst when a Steve Lomas own goal and Ian Rush strike put them 2-0 down at half-time. Uwe Rosler and Kit Symons levelled things up with 12 minutes to go.

City manager Alan Ball knew his side needed to do better than Southampton and Coventry to survive so when he got word Coventry were losing he instructed City to play out time. Lomas was playing keep-ball near the corner flag when the recently-substituted Niall Quinn ran out of the tunnel to tell his team-mates they had been misinformed and needed to win. Unfortunately for City they ran out of time.

MANCHESTER CITY 2 LIVERPOOL 0 (FA Cup fourth-round replay, February 7, 1973)

City were enduring one of those seasons which would become all-too familiar to their fans as they were knocked out of Europe and out the League Cup (by fourth division Bury) by early October.

They were not given much chance against the favourites, who went on to win the league and UEFA Cup that campaign, but a goalless draw at Anfield took the tie back to Maine Road. Colin Bell and Tommy Booth scored the goals which took them through at home.

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