Liverpool vs Manchester City is arguably the biggest game of the 2020/21 Premier League season.
You get the sense that there’s a changing of the guard at Engish football’s summit right now with reigning champions Liverpool leaving the door open for their former conquerors in Manchester.
While the Reds are fresh from losing two consecutive Premier League games at Anfield for the first time in almost a decade, City have emerged as clear favourites for their third title in four years.
Liverpool vs Manchester City
As a result, their all-star clash at Anfield could decide the destination of the Premier League trophy by either hauling Liverpool back into the race or propelling City clear of the chasing pack.
And such high stakes on Merseyside meant that we just had to put Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp’s key protagonists under the spotlight to see how they’re shaping up.
Using our trusty method of Tiermaker, we’ve whittled down the respective squads to their most-used players and ranked them across seven tiers ranging from ‘time is up’ to ‘world-class’.
Ranking City and Liverpool players
It’s also worth noting that Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak will be missing as we’re judging the players on their form for either City and Liverpool and neither player has made their Reds debut yet.
But disclaimers aside, you can check out how we think the City and Liverpool squads compare ahead of their titanic Premier League match-up.
Time is up
Is Firmino more than a goalscorer? Yes. But should he still be doing more? Absolutely.
Personally, I think the time is nigh for Liverpool to freshen up their front three and cash in on Firmino while his transfer value is still pretty high because the Reds striker only appears to be heading in one direction: backward.
But I think we can all agree that Shaqiri, Origi and Adrian aren’t up to the standards of Premier League champions, even as squad players, while enough is enough for Mendy at City after four years of carnage.
Truth be told, we were so close to putting Keita in the ‘time is up’ category, but there are flashes of brilliance from the Reds midfielder. It just happens that Kopites overhype those flashes more than his performances justify.
Now, look, we’re not saying that Silva is anything short of top-class, rather we’re saying that the hype surrounding him would make you think he’s still one of the world’s best forwards when he’s actually blown hot and cold since 2018/19.
Middle of the road
Call us pessimistic, but we were unsure about City’s move for Ake from day dot and a mixture of inconsistent form and intermittent injuries has done little to persuade us that the £41 million fee was justified.
Elsewhere, it’s important to note that this is by no means a criticism of Williams and Jones, rather a natural product of their age and development level because we have no doubt that they’ll climb the tiers in years to come.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, father time is finally starting to catch up with Milner, explaining his steady tumble and we’ve been left disappointed by Zinchenko’s development in recent seasons.
Look, Jesus is by no means the second coming of Ronaldo Nazario, but he gets trashed so much more than he should be for a 23-year-old with a record 74 goals in just 171 appearances for the Citizens.
And quite why there’s not more panic about the possibility of Wijnaldum leaving Anfield on a free transfer this summer is beyond me because the Dutchman’s influence on Klopp’s system shouldn’t be underestimated.
Aguero this low!?!? No, ladies and gentlemen, I haven’t lost my brain cells because I’m judging the City legend off his recent form as opposed to his legacy, otherwise he’d been in the ‘world-class’ tier no questions asked.
But with injuries hampering his every move and the goals drying up in due course, this summer feels like the right time for City to wave goodbye to their greatest ever goalscorer. You’ll be missed, Sergio.
Jota and Torres have both proven themselves to be top-level signings, Gomez and Walker are two of England’s best defenders and Liverpool just never look the same without Henderson in their XI.
Meanwhile, Fernandinho and Rodri are experiencing very different trajectories with the former moving downwards with age, while the other climbs up the tiers as he gathers Premier League experience.
If you’re thinking there are a lot of players in these higher tiers, then that has something to do with the fact that, well, Liverpool and City have two of the strongest squads in the Premier League.
Is this a little harsh on Alexander-Arnold? Perhaps, because there were real signs of his best form returning during the Tottenham win, but we’d be lying if we said he’s been consistent this season.
As a result, we can’t bring ourselves to elevate him into the highest tier of all because some of his defensive displays, in particular, have not been indicative of the world’s best right-back.
Elsewhere, Mahrez and Laporte’s unquestionable ability has been evened out by some lukewarm form in 2020/21 and there’s no denying that Fabinho is one of the Premier League’s best defensive players.
Cancelo, Stones and Gundogan could all stake claims as contenders for the PFA Player of the Year award, while Matip and Robertson are two of the division’s best defenders when they’re on song.
Kevin De Bruyne
Virgil van Dijk
We’re not going to beat around the bush here because there are so many players in the ‘world-class’ category that are the best in their position in the Premier League if not the sport as a whole.
For us, Ederson and Alisson are the top two goalkeepers in England’s top-flight, Van Dijk stands out for us as the world’s best defender and Mane and Salah are in the world’s top ten when they’re firing on all cylinders.
Dias stakes a claim as the Premier League’s best player this season, while De Bruyne holds that status across the board when he’s playing his best football.
Then, rounding things off, we’ll happily admit that Sterling and Thiago are the weakest of the top tier options, struggles at times this season, but come on, there’s no getting closer to them sometimes.
What would you change?
Yes, yes, we’re aware we’ve probably caused no end of controversy here.
But the Premier League is a changeable place, so we don’t doubt for a second that even the picks that we agree on will look silly in a matter of months.
Regardless, though, football is a game of opinions and our suggestions are by no means the ones to live and die by, so be sure to let us know what changes you’d make ahead of the big game.