Liverpool v Manchester City - Match Preview
After the interregnum (good word that) of the domestic cup fixtures it is back to Premier League action with a match that will have the hacks salivating as they predict the latest downfall of Pep Guardiola`s Manchester City.
Strap yourselves in & hold on to your hats as the media dials up the Over-Hype Drive to maximum and looks forward to City`s latest "Biggest Test of the Season".
This is of course after the previous "Biggest Test of the Season" where they put four past media-darlings Spurs, or the one before that where they defeated the rags on their home patch or the one before that…….
Is there a pattern emerging here?
Rest assured Pep will know the task that lies ahead of his squad as they set off down the East Lancs road and will relish the challenge......perhaps this time the hacks may actually have called it right.
The two form clubs in the Premier League will go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon and there will be many predicting that Jurgen Klopp will be the man who punches a hole City`s otherwise imperious progress this season. The home team haven`t lost a game since they were beaten 4-1 by Spurs at Wembley in October; City remain undefeated in domestic competitions having only lost to Shakhtar Donetsk in the final Champions League group stage fixture in early December.
Add to this City`s less than sparkling form at Anfield where either haven`t secured a victory since 2003 and have lost 14 of their twenty games their since the inception of the Premier League and the threat to City`s outstanding domestic run is quite clear.
City`s overall record against Liverpool is likewise nothing to write home about - W54 D52 L101 -and so man City fans will feel that if the 'balloon` is to be punctured then this fixture presents perhaps a clear and present danger.
One thing is certain…..there will be no bus parking and City`s players will need to deliver a top performance especially defensively where Mo Salah will pose a significant threat. Averaging a goal every 94 minutes in the league he is second in the overall scoring charts on 17 goals (only one behind 'Arry 'Studs Up` Kane) and also has 5 assists to his name. He came close to finding the net when City put 5 past the scousers in the reverse fixture and has now gotten to grips with the league - he will pose a significant threat there is no doubt.
Another certainty of course is that there will be no goal from Coutinho this time to score his almost traditional goal against City. Now that Brazilian playmaker has departed for Barcelona I have been waiting for various scouse fans to undertake their usual revision of history by claiming that "they won`t miss him" or that they "never rated him anyway"…… Oxlaide-Chamberlain has already joined the party in claiming the former. I await James "I left to play in central midfield" Milner to chip in with what have now become regular snipes at City - such a shame but the guy has gone down more in my estimation since departing City than I care to put into words.
Talking of players the Liverpool fans "never rated" in their parallel reality, we have to hope that Raheem Sterling, the subject of a bitter, twisted and vitriolic campaign following his move to City can continue his scintillating goal scoring form and deliver a performance against his former club that will stick in their throats. Come on Raheem, now is the time young man.
At the back of course Liverpool have strengthened during the transfer window by securing the services of Virgil van Dijk. Scorer of a winning goal in the Merseyside derby on his debut he of course has secured a place in the hearts of Liverpool fans. It just struck me as rather ironic that they would sing the praises of a player who left another club for a stupendous transfer fee after a rather acrimonious departure - clearly it`s alright of course for Liverpool to buy a player who wishes to further his career at a club where he sees their is perhaps more chance of winning trophies. Hmmm. I just wonder whether any of them will see the irony when they are singing Virgil`s name? Responses on a postcard……..
Liverpool - Salah, Sturridge, Henderson and Moreno are all down as 'slight doubts`…..so I think they could all well be available for Sunday. Clyne will be missing with a back injury.
City managed to negotiate the FA Cup and League cup fixtures without sustaining any further injuries so the injury list remains Mendy, Foden, Jesus & Kompany. We await updates on whether David Silva will be available.
Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph
De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva D (*or Gundogan depending on the situation with young Mateo in Valencia)
Sterling, Aguero, Sané
Bravo, Danilo, Mangala, Zinchenko, Toure, Silva B, Diaz
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistants: Scott Ledger, Richard West
Fourth official: Mike Dean
There is no doubt that Pep and his squad face a massive task on Sunday. City`s record against Liverpool at Anfield is poor and Liverpool will see this as a huge opportunity to stake their credentials by taking away City`s undefeated status as well as keeping up the drive for a Champions League place.
But there is also no doubt that Pep will have plan and will send out his players to play their game and try and win the match. After negotiating the domestic cup ties safely and without shipping any injuries City should be back to full strength from the available players (David Silva`s position excepted) and will likewise be up for this game.
We could be in for a classic……..
Come on City!!!