Writer: Gavin Cooper
Date:Sunday October 5 2008
City of Manchester Stadium
5th October 2008
City come into this game needing to show a statement of intent that they are good enough to mix it with the big boys. Having allowed Chelsea to win; this is a must not lose game.
Mark Hughes takes a brief snippet of how the season has gone so far: 'We`re only six or seven games into the Premier League season, so I still think it would be a little unfair to judge us solely on the games we`ve played up to this point. Talk to me again in the New Year and maybe we might be in a better position to have a go. We`re confident and are playing well, scoring goals and creating chances, so that`s what we have to do against a top team. If we do that then we can cause anybody a problem.'
"We`re at home and playing well there, creating chances, so we`re going to have a real go. Against Liverpool, maybe those chances won`t be as many as other games, but the key is to get the ones that do present themselves to us."
He then goes on to talk about the strengths of the opposition: "Robbie Keane hasn`t scored for them in the Premier League so he`ll be looking to sort that out. We`ll hope to make sure he doesn`t get any chances and is left to wait a little bit longer.
"Steven Gerrard is an exceptionally good player and showed his worth again on Wednesday. But the key to Liverpool at this moment in time is that they are playing with a lot of confidence and they`re winning games that maybe in previous seasons they struggled to do so.
"I think they have the capacity to ask questions of any team, home or away, so we have to be ready for the test ahead of us. We`re looking forward to it and there`s going to be a great atmosphere.
"We have had fantastic crowds here this season and there`s real enthusiasm and a real buzz about the place. We want that to continue, it`s another sell out at the weekend, but from our part we need to give positive performances and get positive results."
City are sweating over the fitness of captain Richard Dunne after he missed Thursday's Uefa Cup victory over Omonia Nicosia.
Dunne is struggling with a hamstring problem and if he misses out Tal Ben Haim is unfortunately expected to replace the Irishman in the heart of City's defence because the Isreali has clearly shown he lacks any decent form to command a defence at present.
Martin Petrov is pushing for a place in the starting line-up after making his return from a hamstring problem on Thursday, but he is again likely to have to content himself with a place on the bench.
No news on Benjani who was expected to have recovered from his thigh strain by now. Nedum Onuoha is also out and so there is little cover at centre half and so Glauber Berti might make an appearance on the bench.
The Brazilian will clearly be ear marked as the player that the Liverpool team will keep tight to; but if he shows the sort of form that he did against Portsmouth then they will find him very hard to deal with.
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is set to recall Javier Mascherano to his starting XI after he was rested against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday night.
Fernando Torres also picked up a minor knock against the Dutch side but is expected to be fit.
enitez has hinted Mascherano is set to start at Eastlands and Xabi Alonso could be the man to make way for the Argentine.
Ryan Babel is set to shake off a minor knock to take his place in the squad.
Former City man Albert Riera is expected to start wide on the left against his old team-mates.
Obviously everybody talks about Steven Gerrard as the heartbeat of the Liverpool side but having Torres up front has given Liverpool that extra dimension and he can score from anywhere.
Were the game being held at Anfield then the stats are heavily weighted in favour of Liverpool. However at City the stats are very even and a draw has been the more likely result in recent years.
City last beat Liverpool at home in April 2005 with a Kiki Musampa volleyed goal from a mis-directed cross from Lee Croft.
Peter Walton - I would like to say this guy is fair; but I thought STeve Bennett was fair and he produced a very suspect display at Wigan last weekend. Neither City or Blackburn lost a game with Walton on the field last season.
Liverpool can be a real nemises for City at times and their strong unbeaten form at present will not be broken by City today; but I do think that both defences will be breached. MCFC 1 - 1 LFC.
Newcastle Away on Monday 20th October in the Premier League with an 8pm kick off live on Setanta Sports.
Date:Sunday October 5 2008
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