Liverpool will look to extend their unbeaten run to ten games against Manchester City on Sunday. The Reds, coming off the back of an important win at Stamford Bridge last weekend, will also be looking to claim their first home victory since the 2-1 defeat of Wolves on 24th September.
Liverpool will face perhaps their toughest challenge of the season so far when they line up against a Manchester City side smarting from their Champions League defeat against Napoli in mid-week. Roberto Mancini’s side have been in imperious form in the Premier League, dropping only two points in their first twelve games, and have become odds-on favourites to claim their first league title since 1968.
The Reds have become a side difficult to beat, however, and haven’t come away with nothing from a game since the debacle at White Hart Lane in mid-September. In a transitional season as they try to reclaim their place at the top of the game, Liverpool are firmly ensconced in the battle for Champions League football, and will be eager to signal their intent with three points against the class side of the division.
City have been in devastating form on the road – their one blip at Craven Cottage aside – scoring a faintly ridiculous 23 goals in just six matches; the wealth of attacking talent that has arrived at the Etihad Stadium making them one of the most exciting teams to watch. They remain vulnerable, however, and were given a tough examination by Queens Park Rangers in their last away trip, and the Anfield crowd will hope to build on Napoli’s victory and put a serious dent in their momentum.
Liverpool have the same squad from which to pick as against Chelsea. Steven Gerrard remains sidelined with an ankle infection, but is also the senior squad’s only injury worry. There has been much speculation over how Kenny Dalglish will approach the game after picking a more fluid attacking side against Chelsea, as many hope that a similar side will be fielded on Sunday.
Likewise, City are missing only one senior player, former Manchester United man Owen Hargreaves, who has a hamstring injury. Their will undoubtedly be changes from the disappointment of their trip to Naples, but the strength in depth of Mancini’s squad make it difficult to predict how his side will line up.
Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Kuyt, Lucas, Adam, Maxi; Bellamy, Suárez
Manchester City (possible)
Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Y. Touré, Barry; Silva, Agüero, Nasri; Balotelli
“The fans are always a very, very important part of this football club. They always have been and they will be going forward. Any help they can give to the players on the pitch will help us progress.
“Everybody has a role to play. Ourselves and the players obviously. Sometimes it’s their responsibility to lift the fans and sometimes it’s the other way around.
“It’s been very important and apparent to myself since I came back in January that everyone has really rallied around, got together and been supportive. Not just players and supporters, but the owners and directors. Ian Ayre has done a fantastic job commercially and the owners have been fantastically supportive in many, many ways.
“When it comes to big games everybody really appreciates the support we get. It doesn’t matter how good you are – if you feel they’ve got confidence and belief in you as a player, then it helps. If anyone makes a mistake who is playing for this football club, it won’t ever be a deliberate one.
“If the players go out and play with their heart and their soul then our supporters will always be right behind them.” Kenny Dalglish knows the importance of the Anfield crowd to his side’s success.
“It’s going to have to be a top performance. They are a top team with many, many great players, not just in the 11 but on the bench.
“We are going to have to be right up for it and start well. If we don’t they will punish you, which they have shown against the top teams this season. But we have belief in our own ability.
“I think we should look forward to it and say ‘Why can’t we be the first team to beat them?’ It’s a great incentive for us. Obviously they are coming off a defeat in Napoli so they will be right up for it.
“We are full of confidence from our result at Chelsea so it has the makings of a cracking game. We are at home at Anfield so I’m confident we can get a result.” Stewart Downing believes there is no reason why Liverpool can’t end Man City’s unbeaten league run.
11 – Both sides have conceded just 11 goals in the league this season in their 12 league games. Carried over a season this would see them concede only 35 goals.
42 – Manchester City have scored 42 goals in the Premier League so far this season, an astonishing 3.5 per game. Scoring at such a rate over the full season would see them net 133 goals, becoming only the second team to pass 100 league goals in a season in the Premier League era, after Chelsea (103) in 2009-10.
200 – Glen Johnson, if selected, will make his 200th career Premier League appearance. The former West Ham, Chelsea and Portsmouth right back has so far made 58 league appearances for the Reds in his injury-hit career at Anfield.
1 – Liverpool have lost just once in their last 12 Premier League games against Manchester City.
It’s very difficult to predict optimistically about a side facing Manchester City in their current Premier League form. Their side has gelled together into an attacking behemoth and they will no doubt put Liverpool under a lot of pressure. My prediction of a draw relies upon Dalglish selecting a team similar to that listed in this preview, one with the guile and movement to create space among the City backline. Although Andy Carroll prospered in this fixture last season, grabbing his first two goals for the club, City are a much different side now, and may well be troubled by the pace of Bellamy and guile of Suárez and Maxi. If a more prosaic team is selected, it will become even more difficult to stop Mancini’s side.
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