Manchester City are at risk of being relegated and having their Premier League titles stripped if found guilty of financial breaches, according to finance expert Dan Plumley.

Everton received a 10-point deduction, the largest penalty in Premier League history, and one that dropped them into the bottom three, for breaches of profit and sustainability rules.

It has also raised many questions over the potential punishment of City, who were charged with 115 financial breaches of the Premier League's rules back in February. It still remains unclear as to how severe their penalty will be, or if they will be punished at all, should they be found guilty.

Plumley, a football finance expert, believes all punitive measures are "on the table", with Everton's harsh deduction a potential benchmark that will be used to judge future penalties.

When asked if City could be stripped of titles or even relegated, Plumley told Stats Perform: "In terms of possibility, the answer is yes. I think there is a possibility of all of those things. But all of those things were on the table before the Everton verdict as well.

"That's what is in the Premier League's governance framework, it's within their remit. They deploy the sanctions and the sanctions range from financial penalties, in terms of fines, to sporting penalties in terms of deductions, or relegation, or stripping of titles.

"All of those things are within the arc of what the Premier League can do. We're looking for benchmarks, and we're looking for precedent. I don't think anything is fully off the table."

Many have been left questioning why Everton's case was resolved so quickly, while City's continues to rumble on with the club seemingly able to indefinitely push their punishment back.

Plumley pointed to the scale and breadth of City's charges as the reason for the drawn-out investigation, saying: "It's because of the volume of allegations in that mix and there were a lot of cases to consider.

"The Manchester City case is a total number of 115 allegations that the Premier League have put against them. [They are] obviously linked to a bigger time period, which is why it's taking so long as well.

"A lot of those are linked to the profit and sustainability regulations, but there are other things that are in the mix as well. And if you contrast that with Everton's case, it's a much longer-term list of allegations. It stretches back to the last 10 years of profit and sustainability regulations.

"They are two very different cases. And it will be interesting to see how the Premier League and any independent commission approach the Manchester City case versus the Everton case because the two were not like-for-like in direct comparison."

Plumley would like to see these financial cases resolved quicker, and highlighted the potential lawsuits heading Everton's way from recently relegated clubs such as Leeds United and Leicester City as a reason to make that a priority.

"A lot of people and myself included, have always stated that those punishments should be dealt with in real time," Plumley explained. "And the evidence probably could have been applied a couple of years ago and has dragged a little bit.

"I think moving forward, it's really important that if we're going to start to put the sanctions in place, that the real-time aspect of that becomes critical.

"Because that might hurt in the short term, but it can save a lot of chaos in the long term because now you're in a situation with Everton where you've potentially got clubs claiming against them for years gone by."

Manchester City have unveiled a statue of club greats Mike Summerbee, Colin Bell and Francis Lee outside the Etihad Stadium.

The permanent bronze tribute on the west side of the ground captures the three players in dynamic poses characteristic of their styles of play.

Summerbee, Bell and Lee were the central figures in the City side that won the First Division title in 1968, the FA Cup the following year and both the European Cup Winners’ Cup and League Cup in 1970.

The names of all 29 players who featured during this trophy-winning era are also inscribed on a bronze plate on the statue’s plinth.

It is the latest in a series of tributes the club have made to honour past players, including the commissioning of statues of Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero, in recent years.

Summerbee, 80, who scored 67 goals in 449 appearances for City and remains an ambassador for the club, said: “This is a truly special moment for me and my family. I joined Manchester City in 1965 and it is the best decision I could have possibly made.

“Fifty years later I am still here, still treated with such respect. I feel incredibly lucky to be recognised in this way, amongst friends whose contribution to our history this club never forgets, despite the amazing success we have enjoyed in recent years.

“It is an honour to be part of this extraordinary club.”

Lee, who scored 148 goals in 330 appearances for City and later had a spell as chairman at Maine Road, died in October. Bell, who died in 2021, scored 153 goals in 498 City games.

The statue has been sculpted by the British artist David Williams-Ellis and is 4.5 metres high and four metres wide.

City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said: “This statue honours three players who are unquestionably City legends and have deservedly earned a special place in the history of the club and hearts of the whole City family.”

RB Leipzig are hoping to restore some pride as they return to the scene of last season’s thrashing by Manchester City, coach Marco Rose has said.

The German side were crushed 7-0 by the eventual Champions League winners when they visited the Etihad Stadium in the last-16 stage of the competition in March.

The two sides meet again at the same venue for a group match on Tuesday, with both having already secured their places in the knockout stages.

Rose said at a press conference: “Last year with the 7-0 thrashing, it put us down, it knocked us down. We haven’t spoken about it but it was not a good feeling after the game.

“But we became cup champions in Germany after the game and we qualified for the Champions League, so it didn’t destroy us as a team.

“Tomorrow we want to do better for sure. We want to compete with one of the best teams in the world. We want to show that we can make it better, that we are better.

“It’s difficult. We will have to suffer tomorrow. I didn’t see a team here that had much possession. Even Liverpool I think had just 40 per cent ball possession.

“So we know what we’ll get but we are here to try again.”

Erling Haaland scored five goals for City in that last meeting and Rose knows all about the threat the Norwegian poses having managed him at his former club Borussia Dortmund.

He said: “I hope the relationship is as good as it always was but obviously he has to do his job tomorrow. We have to try and suppress him if we can.

“We’ll enjoy watching him play but hopefully we’ll be able to stifle him.”

Leipzig go into what is their penultimate game in Group G trailing City by three points. Top spot is still to be finalised but the Germans need to win to have any hope of overhauling the English outfit.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes it is crucial the team and the fans continue to feed off each other’s energy.

Guardiola feels that after his players provided the initial spark last season, it was the power of supporters that propelled City towards their treble success.

“The stadium is all the time full and we have to play as best as possible and create as much as possible to energise and make our people with us,” said Guardiola at a press conference.

“I have the feeling the team is playing really good and these guys – what they have done for many, many years, we love doing it together.

“The games last season – semi-finals, quarter-finals, important games like against Arsenal when we played for the Premier League, they were there like animals and we need that.

“In my humble opinion, to be successful we need our fans, all the time, being here. Thank you for coming, because without that it is impossible. Together we are stronger.

“It is much better for ourselves to feel that they are there. We play better but we have to do the first steps, the first gesture. We have to do it.”

City host German side RB Leipzig on Tuesday needing just a draw to wrap up top spot in Champions League Group G.

The holders have won the first four matches of their title defence and have already secured a place in the knockout stages, as have Leipzig – a side they thrashed 7-0 at home last season.

Guardiola said: “Of course the first step is done for both sides – so congratulations to Leipzig – to qualify for the next round in February.

“But it is important to finish first for prestige, for everything. We believe that when we play the last 16, having the second leg at home is not decisive but is a little bit of an advantage and we have to take it.”

Midfielder Jack Grealish is unlikely to return after illness while Mateo Kovacic and Matheus Nunes are nursing knocks.

Guardiola said: “I’m not much optimistic about good news about some people coming back but we will see. I think it will be the same people who played against Liverpool.”

Defender John Stones was an unused substitute at the weekend but while Guardiola said he was “really, really close” he was “not ready for playing”.

Kevin De Bruyne, who has been out since undergoing hamstring surgery in August, said over the weekend he hopes to return to action early in the new year.

Guardiola said: “If he said January, it will be January. I would have loved to have him all season but now he has had a tough injury and surgery. He has to recover well.

“He’s said end of December, new year, so it will be a happy new year for everyone.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is taking a safety-first approach with John Stones despite the defender being a crucial part of his tactical plans.

The England international has played just 393 minutes of football for his club – and 91 for his country – due to a hip injury and while he was named in the squad for the 1-1 draw with Liverpool after a muscle injury Guardiola had no intention of using him.

Stones has played a vital role in the continuing evolution of the side as the centre-back who steps forward in possession to allow midfielders to play higher up the pitch.

Other players have been tasked with doing the same – the latest Manuel Akanji – but Stones remains the premier exponent of Guardiola’s game-plan but his manager wants to avoid more false starts after two failed comebacks already.

“He feels good but we are going to give him one, two weeks to do proper strength training sessions,” said the City boss.

“John is so important for us I let him play when maybe his muscles weren’t completely ready. He will train with us, either partial or completely, and the rest he is going to have strength training sessions in his legs to be sure when he comes back he feels stronger.

“We need him because there are a lot of games. I know the man of the match (against Liverpool) was Jeremy (Doku) but at Stamford Bridge and yesterday Manu (Akanji) was believable.

“What a signing the club has made with that guy; he can play full-back, central defender, now holding midfielder and when arriving in the final third he has the ability to make passes.”

The game against Liverpool was the first of a scheduled 10 – but likely to be 11 – in 36 days until the end of December as it includes a trip to Saudi Arabia for the Club World Cup where they are expected to progress from their semi-final.

That means Guardiola has to manage all his players, not just Stones, and he claims their training sessions will not last much longer than half-an-hour.

“Maximum 30-35 minutes. Until Tuesday (the Champions League game with RB Leipzig) it will be 10 minutes on the pitch moving the ball and that’s all.

“We cannot train. If we train we won’t have players for the next game.

“We have learned from the past and you just understand what you have to do, the places you have to move, the press.

“We have TV images and we talk individually in specific ways and after they make mistakes it is just about understanding what you have to to do.”

Winger Doku put in the stand-out performance against Liverpool and Bernardo Silva hopes the 21-year-old, a £55million summer arrival from Rennes, can continue the form which saw him score and provide four assists against Bournemouth earlier this month.

“He’s a very good signing and he’s been playing very well for us. Hopefully he can keep going, keep learning and improving and help us win titles,” said the Portugal international.

“You cannot give him limitations, otherwise he loses his magic. We have to let him be himself and do his thing, whilst knowing he has a responsibility to help us when he doesn’t have the ball – but I think he’s been doing really well.”

Jurgen Klopp hailed Trent Alexander-Arnold’s performance as “super influential” after the right-back snatched a draw for Liverpool at Manchester City.

The England international struck a fine equaliser as the Reds held the champions 1-1 in a tight encounter at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Erling Haaland had put City ahead with his 50th Premier League goal from just 48 appearances – a new record – but Alexander-Arnold, having come through some tough moments against the tricky Jeremy Doku, changed the script 10 minutes from time.

Having stepped into midfield, the 25-year-old took a touch and fired into the bottom corner from outside the area to peg back City and allow Arsenal, courtesy of their victory at Brentford, to take top spot.

It was a strong reminder of Alexander-Arnold’s talents after an international break in which there has been much debate over how he can be most effectively deployed by England manager Gareth Southgate.

Liverpool boss Klopp said: “Trent was super influential. Not only in the goal – around the goal, in all situations he was a really important player. He played a really good game.

“We changed it, with the position. We made it more clear where he has to be in these moments.

“He did that really well and had still his moments with Doku where he was really strong in the one-on-one situations.

“You could see in a lot of moments how difficult it is against him, he is a really good dribbler. Trent was pretty influential in a good way.”

Alexander-Arnold’s leveller not only took the gloss off Haaland’s achievement – the previous quickest player to a half-century was Andy Cole in 65 games – but also denied City a share of another record.

Pep Guardiola’s side had won their previous 23 home games in all competitions, stretching back to a draw against Everton last December, and another would have equalled Sunderland’s record for an English top-flight side set between 1890 and 1892.

City, however, were the most dominant side, racking up 16 attempts on goal to Liverpool’s eight and felt aggrieved when a Ruben Dias goal was ruled out for a foul on goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who had an afternoon to forget.

Alisson had been at fault for City’s opener, made numerous other mistakes in the game and picked up a hamstring injury late on.

City defender Nathan Ake said: “I think we wanted more. We felt OK, we felt solid. We didn’t create too many chances but I think we controlled the game way more than we did against Chelsea, which was more up and down.

“We tried to create some chances. Just before their goal we created a very good one.

“We know they have the quality where they can – suddenly out of nothing – score a goal but, in the end, it is frustrating that one shot from distance goes in and you draw the game.”

Erling Haaland’s goal against Liverpool on Saturday was his 50th in the Premier League, in a record 48 games.

Here, the PA news agency looks at his record since arriving at Manchester City last season.

Haaland’s half-century

Having scored 36 goals, a Premier League record, in 35 games in his debut season, Haaland has followed up with 14 in his first 13 appearances this term.

That 48-game total makes him the first player to reach 50 goals at better than a goal per game, with the record previously held by former Newcastle and Manchester United striker Andy Cole who reached the mark in 65 appearances.

The Norwegian was also the quickest ever to both 10 and 25 goals, reaching the former tally in a remarkable six games and going on to 25 in 19.

He has scored five hat-tricks along the way, with a further eight two-goal displays, and has netted in exactly two-thirds of his overall games – 32 out of 48.

However, Cole can still boast the most spectacular way of bringing up his half-century – with the last of his five goals in Manchester United’s 9-0 win over Ipswich in March 1995.

Should Haaland remain in the north-west and go on to 100 Premier League goals, the record to beat is Alan Shearer’s 124 games.

Another one bites the dust

Saturday’s goal was Haaland’s first in a league meeting with Liverpool, marking a step towards another potential landmark.

Though he did score against the Reds in the Carabao Cup, he was kept at bay in last season’s first league meeting before missing the second due to injury.

They were one of only three opponents all season not to concede a league goal to Haaland and with Chelsea also now ticked off, thanks to a brace in November 12’s 4-4 draw, he has scored against every Premier League opponent he has faced with the sole exception of Brentford.

He has yet to play against Luton, with his first opportunity coming on December 10, but has already netted against their fellow promoted sides Burnley and Sheffield United.

City’s away game at Brentford is scheduled for February 3, which as it stands would be the earliest he could complete the set, but their meeting at the Etihad Stadium is to be rescheduled due to City’s involvement in the Club World Cup so could potentially fall earlier in the season.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his side passed an important test coming back to draw 1-1 at Manchester City but stressed there will be bigger challenges to come.

The title rivals could not be separated as City failed to capitalise on a number of chances after Erling Haaland’s record-breaking 50th Premier League goal and Trent Alexander-Arnold scored an 80th-minute equaliser.

“For us I think we passed a test today, I am not sure if it was – the – test,” said Klopp.

“Last year with a team that played long together we got completely under the wheels here (losing 4-1) and had no real chance. Today we had a chance.

“I am not silly, I see the game, and if you ask who was more likely to win the game it was City, obviously, but we had our moments and we won games with lesser chances against City.

“We don’t check if we are as good as City but it is not that I look at our side and say ‘That’s the finished article’ because I saw a lot of performances I was not overly happy with.

“It is a super-difficult week (after the international break) so how can you judge that?”

Liverpool were unusually passive in the opening hour and when Haaland brought up his Premier League half-century in only his 48th appearance – 17 quicker than anyone else – the hosts were in full control.

But the visitors improved after the break and after their opponents missed a number of chances Alexander-Arnold equalised with a sweetly-struck shot from the edge of the area.

“I didn’t like the body language too much in the first half,” added Klopp.

“I know it is part of the circus; preparing the most difficult of the season away at the Etihad with just one session is really a challenge.

“Maybe I am just not good enough, that is absolutely possible, but it is really tricky to do it in 30 minutes on the pitch and 45 in a meeting.

“We needed the first half to understand even more about that and we improved in details, which makes a difference, and scored a goal and brought it over the line and I’m very happy with that.”

Injuries to Diogo Jota and, potentially more significantly, goalkeeper Alisson Becker were of some concern, however.

“I hope it is not that serious but I have not clue what it is. He said he only felt a little bit but we have to wait for the scan,” said Klopp of his Brazil international.

The Liverpool manager also played down a post-match confrontation between Darwin Nunez and City boss Pep Guardiola.

“This situation on the pitch is nothing to do with the historical fierce rivalry, I don’t think Darwin Nunez knows anything about it,” said Klopp.

“Just emotions. I was not involved – surprisingly – but I love them both so I just tried to calm the situation down without knowing 100 per cent what happened as I didn’t understand a word.

“Pep wants to win, we want to win and then both didn’t win so no-one is really happy and these things can happen.”

Guardiola also dismissed the incident, noting that Nunez was “stronger than me”, and preferred to praise his side despite failing to close out victory.

“I’m incredibly pleased with the performance because in seven years we know exactly how tough they are and how good they are,” he said.

“We played really good because I know against which team we are playing. They are excellent. I admire Jurgen a lot, he knows that. That’s why after many years, we are able still to do it and be hungry.

“How many chances did we create? Seven, eight, nine? We were incredibly good in all departments. It’s a pity but I said to them (the players) we’re not going to win or lose the Premier League today.

“They (Liverpool) are happy, we are a little less happy. I’m really pleased and so proud of my team.”

A banner calling on Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour and the club’s fans to help free a human rights activist was flown over the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

A plane carrying the banner ‘UAE: Free Ahmed Mansoor’ circled over the ground early on in the Premier League fixture between City and Liverpool.

Human rights campaign group Amnesty International organised the flyover and is calling on the United Arab Emirates authorities to act. Sheikh Mansour is the country’s deputy prime minister.

Amnesty also wants City fans to “see the bigger picture” and join the campaign to free Ahmed Mansoor.

He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in the UAE in 2018 and Amnesty says he has been kept in an isolation cell throughout his sentence so far and forced to sleep on the floor.

Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group took over City in 2008, a move which has led to a transformation in the club’s fortunes.

The club secured a Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble last season.

Amnesty’s UK chief executive Sacha Deshmukh said: “The UAE has been sportswashing its global reputation through Manchester City while at the same time jailing Ahmed Mansoor and others simply for their peaceful human rights activism.

“Man City’s amazing success under Pep Guardiola owes a great deal to Emirati funding and we’re calling on City fans to join us in this campaign to free Ahmed.

“Today’s plane stunt is a way of saying, ‘Look up from the pitch and see the bigger picture – a huge injustice has occurred, and the owners of Man City are the ones who can right this wrong’.”

Other human rights campaign groups have written to Manchester City Council this month, calling on it to ask the UAE government to release Mansoor.

“Manchester City Council has a deep and long-standing relationship with entities controlled by individuals operating in leadership roles within the highest echelons of the UAE government, which places upon it a special responsibility to show support and solidarity with victims of repression by that government,” a letter to the council, dated November 13, said.

A second plane flew over the stadium in the second half of Saturday’s match, trailing a banner reading ‘Premier League = corrupt’ as part of a protest by Everton fans against the club’s recent points deduction.

Trent Alexander-Arnold cancelled out Erling Haaland’s 50th Premier League goal as Liverpool grabbed a point against champions and title rivals Manchester City on Saturday.

The England international struck 10 minutes from the end of a tight encounter at the Etihad Stadium after Haaland’s landmark strike looked like extending City’s record home winning run.

City had won their previous 23 games on home turf in all competitions, a running dating back to a visit from Everton on New Year’s Eve last December.

Alexander-Arnold’s late equaliser also spared the blushes of goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who had a day to forget having gifted Haaland his opener and committed several other errors.

Haaland had shown no mercy as he netted in the 27th minute, reaching his half-century of goals in the competition in just his 48th appearance, a new record.

Alisson, who was in goal for Brazil in their controversial game against Argentina in Rio on Wednesday, looked sluggish from the start.

He presented Phil Foden with an early opportunity when he gave the ball away but escaped as the England midfielder shot tamely.

At the other end, Ederson palmed away a Darwin Nunez header but Alisson had another worrying moment when he dithered on a back pass and had to scramble clear under pressure from Haaland.

Haaland made sure he was punished when he blundered again.

Firstly Alisson slipped as he attempted to launch the ball upfield and found only Nathan Ake, who charged through some weak challenges to feed Haaland.

The Norwegian scuffed his shot slightly but it was still too powerful for Alisson, whose weak hand to could not prevent it finding the bottom corner.

Nunez hit the side-netting from a tight angle as Liverpool responded but the visitors were unable to consistently trouble City.

The champions threatened again before the break but this time Alisson did well to push away a low effort from Foden.

City went close again after the restart when Julian Alvarez spurned the chance by blazing over after good work by Jeremy Doku.

Liverpool struggled to muster a meaningful threat with Virgil Van Dijk’s header from a corner not troubling Ederson.

Alisson was given a major reprieve after another howler. The Brazilian spilled the ball from a corner under little obvious pressure and Ruben Dias poked in but the goal was disallowed for a foul by Manuel Akanji.

Liverpool made the most of the let-off to equalise on 80 minutes with Alexander-Arnold’s fine strike.

Mohamed Salah laid off on the edge of the box and the England international took a touch before drilling a shot across goal into the bottom corner. He celebrated by putting a finger to his lips in front of the City fans.

City applied plenty of late pressure with Alisson, who appeared injured, struggling to clear his lines.

Haaland almost grabbed a winner in the eighth and final minute of stoppage time but his glancing header flew narrowly wide.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has called Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp the biggest managerial adversary of his career.

The Reds visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday lunchtime for the latest instalment of a classic rivalry that has so often gone a long way to deciding the destination of the Premier League title.

City go into the game one point ahead of Klopp’s side, who look their most realistic title challengers, even if Guardiola says Arsenal and Tottenham are also in the race.

Guardiola has had some battles over the years, notably with Jose Mourinho, but says Klopp has made him a better manager.

Asked if the German was his biggest rival, he said: “Yes, by far. Because we have faced each other a thousand million times.

“Absolutely, he made me better, he helped me reflect on a lot of things with the problems they have created for us, it’s part of when you are many years in this business, him and his teams, here and Dortmund have always been big rivals, good games for both, both teams have a positive approach to the games and always attractive.

“I’m pretty sure he made me a better manager through his teams, and of course, the way we play for them is good with the transitions, they have a lot of space in behind, they are fantastic with the runs, they are a fantastic team, fantastic legs, a top side, no doubt.”

After a poor season last year, where they missed out on Champions League qualification, Klopp’s side look back to their best and are clear challengers for the title.

“Absolutely,” Guardiola said. “Arsenal will be too, I see them as so, so solid. Spurs even, the two defeats they had lately, the feeling when I see the way they are playing and with one game a week, I think they will be there.

“Chelsea start to recover and have one game a week. I think the four or five contenders are there. I don’t know if Newcastle will join, maybe United will join us but many things can happen.”

The Premier League returns on Saturday lunchtime as league leaders Manchester City host second-placed Liverpool.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp joked that he loves playing at 12:30 in Friday’s press conference, but he has been a long-time critic of the slot and expressed his frustration again before the international break.

Here, the PA news agency looks at Liverpool’s record in early kick-offs under Klopp.

Early birds

The clash against Manchester City will be Liverpool’s 42nd Saturday lunchtime kick-off since the German arrived on Merseyside in October 2015, which is the most of any Premier League club in that time.

City and Tottenham will have both played 38, ahead of Manchester United (33) and Chelsea (31).

Klopp has overseen a total of 20 wins, 13 draws and eight defeats in the early Saturday slot, which equates to 1.78 points per game.

That represents the second-best record among ‘big six’ clubs, behind City (2.24), but is well below his average return across all other kick-off times (2.16).

Liverpool’s performances in Saturday lunchtime games have been indicative of their title prospects in recent years, with the Reds having won all 12 of such matches in 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2021-22 – seasons in which they lifted the title or finished within a point of Pep Guardiola’s City.

In contrast, Klopp’s men won just one of five 12:30 kick-offs in 2020-21 – when they barely made it into the top four – and none of six on the way to finishing fifth last season.

Jet lag

Fourteen of Liverpool’s 42 Saturday lunchtime kick-offs under Klopp have come immediately after an international break, including three in three already this season.

That is more than twice as many as any other club, with Tottenham and Chelsea having done so six times since October 2015, ahead of the Manchester clubs on five apiece.

The Reds’ squad contains four South American internationals who all featured in continental qualifiers in midweek before making the return trip to the north-west.

Alexis Mac Allister and Alisson Becker faced each other in Argentina’s 1-0 win over Brazil, while Darwin Nunez scored twice for Uruguay against Bolivia and Luis Diaz played for Colombia against Paraguay.

Despite his unhappiness with the schedule, Klopp has a good record in lunchtime fixtures following an international hiatus.

Fittingly, his reign began with a post-international 12:45 kick-off against Spurs, which ended in a 0-0 stalemate.

He has since recorded eight wins – including victories over Wolves and Everton this term – two draws and two defeats in 12 subsequent games.

However, both losses came at the hands of Saturday’s opponents City, with Guardiola’s side recording 5-0 and 4-1 thrashings in 2017-18 and 2022-23 respectively.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his side can reap additional benefit from having Alexis Mac Allister as a makeshift holding midfielder.

The Reds boss was dismissive of the suggestion the Argentina international, who usually plays further forward, faces the biggest test of his adaptation into a new role at Manchester City on Saturday.

Mac Allister, who joined for £35million from Brighton, has coped well so far filling a hole in a newly-formed midfield with fellow summer signing Wataru Endo, a genuine number six, only entrusted with two Premier League starts, but the prospect of facing Pep Guardiola’s side on their own turf is an entirely different prospect.

The 24-year-old’s poorest performances in the role have come away from home – at Wolves, where he was replaced at half-time after returning from international duty in South America, Newcastle and his former club – but that is not a concern for Klopp at this moment in time.

When asked whether this will Mac Allister’s biggest test, Klopp replied “No.

“I understand that from the outside world it is always about how is a player in this position. but in the end it is all about how the whole team is set up.

“Is Macca a natural-born six? No. Did football develop in the last years in directions we couldn’t imagine before? Yes. Does that mean that a player like Macca can play the six. Definitely.

“It depends on how the whole team defends. Easy as that. If we do that properly then we have an incredible player in a central position who can find passes, a forward-thinking player.

“Do you want a player there who is just knocking players down and when we are in possession he thinks ‘not my job, give me a break’?

“I like him there a lot to be honest and we as a team can benefit a lot from it if we make sure we have a really compact formation and that’s what we especially need tomorrow.”

The top-of-the-table clash is being billed as the biggest game of the season as Klopp’s side have emerged from a summer midfield rebuild to become City’s main challengers, sitting just a point behind the leaders despite their fifth-place finish in May.

But the Liverpool manager insists it should not be used to gauge comparisons with the Premier League champions.

“It is not a test how close can we get to City, it is just a super-exciting football game,” he added.

“But for us it is not about being excited, we have to prepare it properly and we know we have to be at our best to get a chance. We have that then it is about us to take it.

“A lot of things can happen: can we play bad, lose? Possible. Can we play bad and win? I would say it is unlikely, it’s pretty much not possible against City. We can play very good and don’t win, it’s possible. We play very good and win.

“This team doesn’t have to pass a test now, the direction we are going – up – is really the right one, that is obvious.

“Toulouse (a 4-3 Europa League defeat) we were not good there. I made a lot of changes so it goes on my responsibility, but still no good. Against Luton (a 1-1 draw), we were not good and if we had won the game, we were not good that night.

“But in a lot of games this season we were good and deserved what we we got.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola insists he would stay at the club even if they were relegated to League One should they be found guilty of breaking Premier League financial rules.

City’s fate has been brought back into focus following Everton’s 10-point deduction last week, but Guardiola insists the two cases are completely separate.

The Toffees were docked 10 points for breaching rules over a three-year period, while City are awaiting a ruling after being charged in February with more than 100 alleged breaches of the competition’s financial fair play regulations between 2009 and 2018. The club denies all the charges.

Asked whether there could be any severity of punishment which would make him consider his position, Guardiola replied: “It’s a good question. I will answer when I have the sentence.

“You are questioning like we have been punished. And in the moment we are innocent until guilt is proven. I know the people want it. I know, I feel it. I will wait.

“Wait and see it and after the sentence has been done we will come here and explain it. But absolutely I will not consider my future (if) it depends (on) being here or being in League One. Absolutely.

“There is more chance to stay if we are in League One than if we were in the Champions League.”

Guardiola claims people have already decided that City are guilty and are already clamouring for them to be relegated, especially after the severity of Everton’s punishment.

“I know when people are saying, ‘OK, City, why don’t they go to the Conference?’ Wait. Wait,” he said.

“And after what’s going to happen is going to happen.

“When you read [what is said] then we should be relegated, relegated, relegated, yeah, of course, but nobody knows exactly. All the people who say that didn’t read the statements, don’t know exactly what happened. Not even myself, I didn’t read all the breaches, I didn’t read our defence.

“But wait. What I said a month ago – OK, if we’ve done something wrong we’ll be punished. But wait – we can defend ourselves can’t we?

“What people accuse us of we do not agree with what they say, we are going to defend [ourselves] and after the resolution is done, I will be here, like a spokesman for my club.

“I want to say the case for Everton, and I don’t know what happened, but only I know from the lawyers and people at my club and the lawyers is that they are completely different cases. That’s why you cannot compare because every case is completely different.

“The other one is longer because it is more complicated because it’s 115 breaches. So wait. Then after with the lawyers from both sides present their cases in front of the judge and the verdict and after I will say in front of you and you can ask me the question.”

The topic overshadowed the build-up to one of the blockbusting Premier League fixtures as City welcome rivals Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime.

Guardiola hopes that Erling Haaland is fit after he withdrew from international duty with Norway with an injury, but there are several other injury concerns.

“He trained yesterday with some niggles, today we train and hope he can be part of it,” Guardiola said.

“We have a few problems like many clubs, we’ll see after our last training sessions, we’ll see.

“I will know at 6pm who we have available, it’s always plan A.”

Former Liverpool midfielder Jan Molby believes the performance of Alexis Mac Allister could be crucial in the top-of-the-table clash with Manchester City.

While the two teams are generally well-matched in most positions, the hosts boast Rodri, who is regarded as the world’s best in the holding role, while Jurgen Klopp has had to field Mac Allister as a makeshift number six.

It is an unfamiliar position for the Argentina World Cup winner, who is more effective in a slightly more advanced role, but he has been asked to do a job as Liverpool’s all-new midfield still takes shape after a summer overhaul.

Japan international Wataru Endo was one of four midfield arrivals in the summer and while he is accustomed to the defensive job, the 30-year-old has been entrusted with only two Premier League starts and is unlikely to be in consideration against the defending champions.

“When you look at the midfield three, I still think we need to find the right balance and combination,” Molby told the PA news agency at the launch of the club’s Ultimate LFC Experience, a package which includes giving fans the opportunity to train at Melwood – the former home of the men’s team and current training base of the women’s side.

“We’ve managed to get away with that midfield from game to game, but there is every chance Bernardo Silva and Julian Alvarez will be playing in there and he (Mac Allister) will have to look after those and that’s a big job in itself.

“You only have to look at City and what happened when Rodri was out through suspension and they lost games (against Wolves and Arsenal) – that’s how important a world-class number six is.

“When you look at the teams who are doing well, they all have a world-class number six so that’s an area where we might need to look at.

“The majority of games we will get away with it because of the general quality we have, but there might be one or two games where we go ‘we need someone better in that position’.

“That is not a criticism of Alexis as he is not a number six, he is more of a number eight, so the quicker we can get in there the quicker we will improve.”

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