In terms of consequence, the Premier League matchup between Liverpool FC and Manchester City is best explained by an old quote issued by Herm Edwards, now the head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils, back when he was in charge of the NFL’s New York Jets.
“This is what’s great about sports. This is what the greatest thing about sports is,” Edwards said in October 2002. “You play to win the game!”
That’s what Liverpool and Man City will do Thursday at 3:15 p.m. ET at Etihad Stadium in Manchester.
Liverpool officially is the 2019-20 Premier League champions. The Reds just haven’t lifted the trophy yet. Manchester City almost certainly will finish second. That’s not mathematically assured, but it will be a challenge for third-place Leicester City to overcome an eight-point deficit.
So what transpires between LFC and City will be about their personal competition. They have won the last three Premier League titles. They have recorded the three highest points totals in league history — City’s 100 two seasons ago and 98 last year, LFC’s 97 last season as EPL runners-up — and LFC is on course to surpass those numbers with its play this year.
Also, there is the notion of making an early statement about which will enter the 2020-21 season as favorite. Ordinarily that might not apply. It’s a challenge to carry momentum through even the short offseason Premier League teams are allowed. With the league finishing the current season July 26, there might not be a ton of time in between.
Manchester City has had moments since the league’s return in which it has been so extraordinary that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp openly wondered how his team came to be so far ahead in the standings. City won their first two league games after the return by a combined 8-0 score. Behind forward Christian Pulisic, however, Chelsea broke that streak with a 2-1 home victory a week ago.
City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has been, perhaps, the best all-around player in the league this season and may break Liverpool’s two-year hold on the PFA Player of the Year award (won in 2018 by forward Mohamed Salah and in 2019 by defender Virgil van Dijk). Young Englishman Phil Foden, veteran Riyad Mahrez and De Bruyne have each scored twice in the three games since the return.
Liverpool’s biggest moment in the past week was winning the title while it sat and watched Chelsea defeat Man City, assuring no team in the league could catch the Reds on points. But they also played brilliantly in their most recent game, a 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace that included a beautiful free-kick goal by right back Trent Alexander-Arnold. It was the 14th shutout of the season for LFC, which has allowed only 21 goals in 31 games.
In the United States, the game will be on NBC SN and available to live stream on NBCSports.com. Enhanced-audio crowd sound will be used on the NBC SN broadcast, while natural sound without fans is available on the live stream.
In Canada, you can watch on live stream on DAZN, which has exclusive rights to every Premier League game in Canada. DAZN, which is available on many streaming devices, web browsers and smart TVs, offers a 30-day free trial.
For the Man City-Liverpool game, there will be options with or without enhanced audio, plus an armchair analysts feed featuring Shay Given, Emile Heskey and Harry Kewell.
For those who can’t watch LFC vs. City on TV and wish to find the game on the radio, it will be available on satellite radio’s dedicated soccer channel, SiriusXM FC.
One assumes both teams will be highly motivated, even though the game will not have much impact on the season standings. Liverpool will have had eight days to rest, whereas City played an FA Cup quarterfinal match on Sunday.
According to FanDuel, City is listed as a -105 favorite, meaning that you would need to bet $105 to win $100. Meanwhile, LFC is the underdog at +260, meaning a $100 bet would net you $260.
That appears to be a reasonable choice given the natural tendency Liverpool will have felt to relax and celebrate after achieving something as elusive as a Premier League title. It had been 30 years since the club’s most recent First Division title, and they’d never won the EPL.
The pick: Manchester City 2, Liverpool 1
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