Manchester City fear there will be a repeat of their bus attack at Anfield in April 2018 when they face Liverpool this weekend.
The reigning Premier League champions are concerned at the manner and volume of social media posts promising a hostile greeting upon their arrival in Merseyside this weekend.
However, Merseyside Police have assured City chiefs, who raised concerns about the prospect of another unsavoury incident, that a ‘comprehensive and appropriate’ operation will be in place for the top-of-the-table clash.
A statement from Superintendent Paul White read: “As with any match, a comprehensive and appropriate policing operation has been put in place ahead of Sunday’s game and we have liaised with both clubs and their supporter groups.
“We are aware of one poster on social media regarding a bus welcome.
“The corresponding last fixture ran smoothly and we are working to ensure this game can be enjoyed safely by all as well as minimising any disruption to local residents and roads.”
“As with all Premier League fixtures at Anfield, we will have officers on duty at the ground, both uniformed and plain clothed, supported by mobile CCTV, provided by Liverpool City Council, and specialist resources including the Dog Section, mounted police and the National Police Air Service,” the statement continued.
“We will also have a city-centre policing plan in place throughout the day. This is standard procedure.
“We know that this will be a busy operation and we hope that fans attending the match will act as ambassadors for their clubs.
“As usual we would ask fans with tickets to arrive at the ground as early as possible.
“Fans without tickets should not attend at all; they will not be allowed entry into the stadium.”
The team coach carrying Pep Guardiola’s men to Merseyside was pelted with cans and bottles when the two sides met in the Champions League.
Flares were also unleashed by hundreds of fans who lined the streets outside the stadium.
City were forced to seek an alternative vehicle for their return trip to Manchester, such was the damage caused to the coach.
No arrests were made in connection with the incident, as Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was forced to apologise for the ‘idiots’ involved in the melee.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s encounter, Klopp addressed the matter again, commenting: “If someone from City is concerned still, it’s our fault.
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“We all didn’t throw a bottle, but it was one of us. All of us have to make sure that something like that never happens again.
“We will do everything to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Meanwhile, the manager says he hopes to meet stricken Reds fan Sean Cox before Sunday’s encounter.
The 54-year-old, who will attend this weekend’s clash with his family, was left with devastating brain injuries after being attacked by a group of Roma supporters before the sides’ Champions League clash last April.
“Something like this should not happen around a football game. I hope to see him before the game, I really want to,” he added.
“When it happened it was my lowest point at Liverpool. We don’t just sing You’ll Never Walk Alone, we live that.”
City head into the game six points behind their title rivals and the record books do not sway in their favour.
Pep Guardiola’s men have not won at Anfield since 2003 — and their last victory before that was Boxing Day 1981.
Belgium attacker Kevin De Bruyne says the poor run of form is not something that interests him when speaking ahead of the eagerly-anticipated showdown.
“I don’t care,” replied De Bruyne. “A lot of circumstances will decide the game. What can a player do with statistics like this?
“It’s a game like another. We know it’s a big game – Liverpool are ahead.
“We have to go back, recover and be ready.”