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VMC Preview: The Blues v The Reds

Manchester CITY

The City of Manchester Stadium

Sunday 21st February 2010

15h00 GMT

City have beaten Chelsea, the rags and Arsenal (twice) at Eastlands this season. Can they now add the scalp of Liverpool? The VMC Preview match pack weighs up the odds...

Vital Quotes:

Roberto Mancini:

'This is a huge game and everybody can play their part, the fans as well as the players. I have been very impressed by our supporters since I have been here. It is so important to the team and I know just how much they appreciate it. They are the 12th man, and the louder they are on Sunday the better against one of our closest rivals.

'I read that I have a problem with Craig Bellamy, that I shouted at him. Craig trained on Wednesday, yesterday and he will train today. I have spoken to him, face to face, but as a manager speaks to a player. I have not shouted at him, never. I am happy to resolve things, face to face, in a room but I do not have a problem with him. If his knee is OK, he will be available for Sunday. I did not tell him to go away for three months, that is false. He is here training today, he worked with the physio for the first time on Wednesday for the first time in 12 days. He worked with the physio on Thursday when the other players were off, he did so again Friday and if he is alright after, he will be with us for training.'

Rafa Benitez:

'It will be very important for both teams. It is a position we are both fighting for with Tottenham and Aston Villa so we have to keep going until the end of the season. But it's not just one or two games, every game is important and especially if you play against a team which is near you in the table. Tottenham spent some money, Aston Villa spent some money, City spent some money, and we spent some money so the pressure is on all of us. We will try to win. You never know how you can win, sometimes it is counter-attack, sometimes it is attacking. We will try to find the balance. I think they are an attacking team and we like to attack too so I think it will be open.'

Nigel De Jong:

'Liverpool is always going to be a huge game and a match we will be giving our all to win. They are a huge club, one of the Premier League's 'big four,' and as a player, these are the games you want to be involved in. We also have the added incentive of knowing a win will dent one of our main rivals for a Champions League spot. We have to prepare as we always do for our home games and aim to take all three points. I noticed from the moment I arrived in Manchester how many Blues there were compared to Reds. This is a working-class city. The people are used to hard work and want to see players play in a way I think they would if they had the opportunity.

'I'm the type of player who wants to work and fight hard on the pitch too. I'm not the sort of player who will make a nice move during a game - in fact, I'd rather win a fair, crunching tackle than score a goal!

'That's just how I am and I can see the passion our fans have for this club, from small kids through to adults. They have City in their hearts and give their all to support the team in every aspect they are involved.'

Joleon Lescott

'At the start of the season we wanted to get into the Champions League and we still believe we can do that…I believe all the pressure will be on Liverpool. We're a point ahead with a game in hand and we play them on Sunday. If we can win that game then it really will stand us in good stead for the rest of the season.'

Javier Mascherano:

"Maybe if City got into the top four, they would build on it, like Chelsea did, but one thing is clear. You can buy players, but you cannot buy history. At Liverpool, that counts for a lot. We play with the history of the club. We don't have the money that they have, but we are proud to play for Liverpool. I don't want to play for Manchester City"

VMC City Video Link: Mancio Liverpool Press Conference

Manchester CITY Team News:

Carlos Tevez remains in Argentina by his prematurely born baby's side who is in intensive care. He will again be badly missed at Eastlands.

Martin Petrov's long suffering knees are struggling again and out he goes for another four weeks at least.

The woefully off the pace Patrick Vieira starts the first of his three game ban for knacking Stoke's Glenn Whelan, er, in the knackers.

Vincent Kompany, desperately missed at the heart of City's defence remains out with a groin tear.

Craig Bellamy should start after intensive treatment on his own long standing knee problems.

Michael Johnson remains out for the season.

The fast developing Abdisalam Ibrahim comes back into Mancio's squad in place of Vieira.

Player to watch: Stephen Ireland

As City's creativity all but dried up in consecutive fixtures against Stoke, more and more Blue eyes have been cast in Ireland's direction in the hope that he can begin to consistently deliver the type of performances that his great talent promises.

There are few bigger stages than this for the young Irishman to begin to come of age.

Forget flaunting the fishtanks and other crap to us in the credit crunch Stevie. Play football.

Liverpool Team News:

The Reds will be hoping that Yossi Benayoun will be back in action after the broken rib injury he sustained last month. Glen Johnson remains sidelined alongside Fernando Torres.

Alberto Aquilani returned to action in the Europa League Romanian struggle on Thursday with no ill effects.

Player to watch: Steven Gerrard

Stop Gerrard and you stop this Liverpool side.

The mercurial midfielder relishes this type of win at all costs battle and Barry, Ireland and De Jong must give him no quarter.

There will be no margin for error where Gerrard is concerned.

Match Facts & Stats

Shaun Wright-Phillips will make his 200th Premier League appearance for City.

The Citizens are unbeaten at Eastlands since April 2009.

The Blues have failed to beat Liverpool on the last nine occasions, drawing on 4 occasions.

Liverpool have only won 1 of their last 6 away games. They failed to score in 4 of those fixtures.

City have lost only 5 games across all competitions this season.

Current City Striking Records: Carlos Tevez, who unfortunately remains in Argentina has scored 19 goals in 27 City starts. Emmanuel Adebayor has scored 9 goals in 20 City starts.

Follow the action and debate Live in the VMC Match Day Forum!:
MATCHDAY THREAD: Man City vs Liverpool - Sun Feb 21 - KO: 3pm UK Time


Ref Watch:

P Walton (Northamptonshire) Mr. Walton takes charge of his first City game this season, but his SIXTH officiating Liverpool. During the previous 5 games Liverpool scored 13 goals and went undefeated. Walton tends to oversee high scoring games. Liverpool 6 Hull 1, Arsenal 6 Blackburn 2, Tottenham 9 Wigan 1 and 4 nillers for Chelsea, the rags and Liverpool Certainly lets games flow. Current season record: Games:22, Yellow Cards:45 Red Cards:4

Match Prediction:

Despite what either the Spanish or Italian gaffer says, this game is absolutely massive and they will both be desperate to succeed. There is already the air of a cup final about this one and following two dreadful games of an appalling standard served up by City and Stoke, we might be about to watch a football match. City have been poor of late whereas Liverpool have improved steadily. Yet the scousers were rubbish in their Europa League scrape through against Unirea Urziceni. Much will depend upon who wants this the most and the game could well be won or lost up front in the absences of the brilliant Fernando Torres and stunning Carlos Tevez. When you consider that in the past 15 meetings between the two sides, one goal has been the maximum difference, then this is another too close to call job. In which case, I am counting on home support and the laws of probability to dictate that City edge this crucial clash. Johnny On The Spot: CITY 2 Liverpool 1

Next Fixtures:

A: Stoke City FAC5R, Wed 24 Feb 19h45 GMT
A: Chelsea, Sat 27 Feb 12h45 GMT
H: Spurs, Sat 6 March 12h45 GMT

Writer:Johnny Baguette
Date:Friday February 19 2010
Time: 6:12PM

Best of International Football News



What's all that about with that ref and Liverpool games? Do the FA draw their games out of a hat?
Johnny Baguette
19/02/2010 18:18:00
Stop Gerrard and Liverpool will fall like a pack of cards. We need to mark and knock him out of the game - simples!
19/02/2010 18:50:00
I've gone for a 2-1 City win as well JB, its time for our players to really stand up and be counted now.
19/02/2010 19:44:00
UPDATE: The match is confirmed by the club as sold out.
Johnny Baguette
20/02/2010 13:07:00
Shaun Wright-Phillips latest: "It's an old saying, but the fans really can be like a 12th man for us. 12 against 11 is not easy when the crowd are against you, and our fans are always fantastic. I really hope they get right behind us on Sunday. If we win then it's down to us to lose fourth place, we have been chasing it all season with games in hand. But we are now in fourth place, we still have a game in hand and we're in the driving seat. Everybody knows how good a team Liverpool are so we need to go into this game with the same attitude we had when we went to Anfield. We nicked a point at Anfield, it could and maybe should have been all three, and they are coming to our place where a lot of teams have failed. I don't see why we can't keep our good run at home going against them. The other top clubs have all lost here this season, we're making this place a bit of a fortress like we did at times last season. You have to have good home form if you want to get into the top four, we're consistent at home and if we can keep that up we are giving ourselves a great chance. I think Liverpool could attack us which could play into our hands, so we have to be careful that we don't concede. If we keep a clean sheet we have a real chance of beating them, it's very rare that we don't score."
Johnny Baguette
20/02/2010 13:48:00
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