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With Dias injured, Guardiola has lost his Van Dijk… and that gives Liverpool the edge over Man City

PEP GUARDIOLA has a roster of stars to make any manager in football green with envy – and Jurgen Klopp isn’t far behind.

We’ll see the vast majority of them at the Etihad this afternoon when Manchester City and Liverpool meet toe-to-toe.

Pep Guardiola could really miss his integral defender Ruben Dias against Liverpool

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Pep Guardiola could really miss his integral defender Ruben Dias against LiverpoolPhoto credit: Getty

But it’s so close to naming it, ironically I think the deciding factor might actually be the one man doing it HABIT to be out there for a game that many call the title decider.

Barring a miracle – or Pep rolling everyone’s eyes – Ruben Dias will miss out again with a hamstring injury.

And he makes such a big difference to City defense that I have a feeling Liverpool will steal it without him.

Although I don’t agree with those who say the Premier League will definitely go to Anfield if they do, btw.

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If City win and the gap grows to four I think it would be too much for Liverpool to catch up. But if – as I suspect – it goes the other way, it will still be so close that nothing is decided.

Both will go for victory – they never do anything else – but for Pep it’s about stick or twist?

Going into the game a point ahead means it’s almost like winning the first leg away and knowing you don’t have to do it.

City don’t play like that, I know, but in the back of their minds they’ll think a draw isn’t a bad result. Liverpool, on the other hand, have no option.

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They’re so great – ten league wins in a row, back to that draw against Chelsea in early January – and an absolutely fantastic forward line.

I can imagine Pep going with Aymeric Laporte and John Stones in the middle and those guys’ movement up front is so hard to stop when they’re buzzing around.

When Liverpool were without Virgil van Dijk for so long, they were a different team. Dias has the same influence at City.

He’s the leader of that defence, the one who organizes and I can see Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota creating all sorts of problems on the counter.

This is the be-all and end-all for both managers. It’s the only thing that matters.

Harry Redknapp

They’re all perceptive enough to pop up anywhere, and you always think City – sans slides – will give you a chance or two. You can’t afford that at Liverpool.

But like I said, if they end the day two points clear at the top, nothing is decided.

With seven games remaining, it only takes one slip and it’s different again. We saw how easily things can change when Crystal Palace defeated Arsenal.

If you look at their run-ins, you’d say City has the easier of the two. Liverpool have United and the Merseyside derby next, and while they’re better than either, nothing is taken for granted.

Spurs need to go to Anfield too and the way Antonio Conte plays them these days makes them very dangerous opponents.

And don’t think this game will have a huge impact on next week’s FA Cup semi-finals when City and Liverpool are back at it.

Liverpool are embarrassed to attack riches ready to wreak havoc at the Etihad

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Liverpool are embarrassed to attack riches ready to wreak havoc at the EtihadPhoto credit: Getty
Virgil van Dijk is Liverpool's leader on the pitch and sets the tone in the team

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Virgil van Dijk is Liverpool’s leader on the pitch and sets the tone in the teamPhoto credit: AFP

This is the be-all and end-all for both managers. It’s the only thing that matters. There’s no chance Guardiola or Klopp will do anything today but play their strongest sides.

There is no doubt that you are talking about the best two teams in Europe – by a wide margin. What a Champions League final that would be.

However, City won’t be able to get their money’s worth for next week’s second leg against Atletico Madrid in Spain.

Atletico manager Diego Simeone will believe he can make up for this one-goal defeat at home.

You’ve seen them kick players like Jack Grealish and Phil Foden in the first leg. Anything will happen in Madrid.

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Simeone is going to heat them up and City is in for a real fight. I just hope they play Real or Chelsea in the semifinals – and I think they probably will.

As for this afternoon, well, that’s a different story. But if you’re thinking of trying to reach me, don’t worry – I won’t budge in front of my TV.

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5090730/harry-redknapp-dias-injured-guardiola-liverpool-man-city/ With Dias injured, Guardiola has lost his Van Dijk… and that gives Liverpool the edge over Man City

ClareFora

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