"Four center-backs Pep, four?!", "Spiderman is starting" - Manchester City fans left confused by starting XI against Liverpool
Manchester City fans are bemused by Pep Guardiola's starting lineup for their crucial clash with Liverpool on Saturday (April 1).
The Cityzens host the Reds at the Etihad looking to move to within five points of league leaders Arsenal. They face Jurgen Klopp's side who are in the midst of a top-four race and in dire need of a good result.
Guardiola has opted for an intriguing lineup that has confused Manchester City fans. The Spanish coach has started Ederson in goal with a back four of John Stones, Manuel Akanji, Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake.
Meanwhile, Rodri is in midfield alongside Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne. Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish join Julian Alvarez in attack. The latter starts instead of Erling Haaland, who has been ruled out with a groin injury.
Guardiola's selection of a back four has dumbfounded fans. One fan tweeted that the decision was insane:
"Four center-backs pep, four?!? that's insane!"
Meanwhile, another fan was excited to see Alvarez start. The Argentine attacker, nicknamed Spider-Man, has scored 12 goals and contributed four assists in 34 games across competitions:
"Spiderman is starting."
Here's how Twitter reacted to Guardiola's starting lineup for the encounter with Liverpool:
Manchester City manager Guardiola explains Haaland's absence
Manchester City will be without Erling Haaland, who has been in spectacular form this season. The Norweigan striker has scored 42 goals in just 37 games across competitions.
However, Haaland was forced to withdraw from international duty with Norway this past week. The prolific frontman is nursing a groin injury and was assessed before the battle with Liverpool. Unfortunately for Manchester City, he will play no part in the crunch clash.
Guardiola touched on this before the game, explaining that he didn't want to risk Haaland. He told BT Sport:
"He is much much better but not fully fit for today. He didn’t feel good, we spoke and said no risk."
Guardiola continued by insisting that Alvarez can fill in for the in-form forward:
"Tactics are players so the quality Erling has is a specific one, Julian has other ones and we are fully confident."
Although Guardiola is in a confident mood, Haaland's absence is a massive blow given his incredible debut season at the Etihad. The forward has been instrumental in City's pursuit of three trophies and will want him back as soon as possible.
The Cityzens have just 12 league games remaining to turn the tide in the title race.
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