Trent Alexander-Arnold and Raheem Sterling will do battle on Sunday. It will likely be the duel that decides Liverpool v Manchester City.
The two players have been in fantastic form this season. Sterling, in particular, has exploded into one of the world’s best players since his £49m move.
The ex-Liverpool man has 14 goals already this season – four more than Sadio Mane – while providing four assists. Sterling has become arguably City’s biggest threat and, seeing as he usually starts from the left now, Alexander-Arnold has his hands full defensively.
But then, so does Sterling.
Liverpool’s right-back is the most creative player in the team right now. His passing, crossing and set-pieces are the go-to going forward and there’s little doubt that he’s one of the best full-backs in the world. Alexander-Arnold may be the best.
And that’s why this duel is so interesting. It’s not like two wingers hoping to out-do one another. It’s not even the traditional attacker v defender meeting.
Instead, it’s two players looking to be the influence going forward, while knowing it’s their responsibility to stop their marker. Neither man can push forward all game and leave the other free.
But then both most push forward – their team’s systems depend on it.
Whoever balances it best could decide the game. But unfortunately for Liverpool, Pep Guardiola has more control. He can move Sterling, after all, should Alexander-Arnold get the better of him.
Jurgen Klopp doesn’t really have that luxury. He rarely, if ever, switches his full-back. But should Guardiola move Sterling, Liverpool will have won that battle. They’ll have forced City into a plan B.
That only happens if Alexander-Arnold has a brilliant game, though, managing to create for Liverpool while keeping Sterling quiet.
It’s a big ask for a 21-year-old but he’s stood up when needed before.