The VMC Match Preview: MCFC v Liverpool
Monday, 23rd August
So, it's here. The first home of the season and despite recent records between the two sides, everything is in place for a good game of football. With City coming out on top of course
'I'm sure Mancini will be telling his team they have to start well against Liverpool with it being their first home game, but I just think this is a good time for us to play Manchester City.
'I can see them being hit and miss this season and after watching the Arsenal game we seemed well organised and we always seem to do well away at City.
'I think this game will go a long way to showing us what is going to happen this season because I believe this year when Liverpool play the so-called lesser clubs we will win those games, unlike last season.
'It's when we play the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and City that could decide if we can finish in the top-four this season.'
'Maybe it's a good time for us to be playing Manchester City as they have a lot of new players and sometimes it does take time to gel.
'They have got two excellent goalkeepers in Joe Hart and Shay Given but I do feel they are vulnerable at the back and the likes of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard can cause them problems.
'I felt we made a very good start against Arsenal last Sunday. It also showed how much spirit and togetherness is in the squad with the way we all worked for each other with 10 men.
'We can go to City with confidence that we can get a result. I think it's important we get something out of the game on Monday.'
Manchester City Team News:
Roberto Mancini has a few more injury worries than he would have expected or envisaged at this stage in the season. A combination of airplane shopping trolleys and North London turf has meant the Italian is without who I expect are his first choice full backs; Jerome Boateng and Aleksandar Kolarov. Therefore, I expect Pablo Zabaleta to be handed the starting shirt at right back and Joleon Lescott at left back - after featuring in that very position for the first time in a City shirt three days ago.
James Milner is expected to make his Manchester City debut in central midfield after Mancini this week declared he intends to play the 24 year old in the middle of the park. However, I expect Milner to be used as the midfield utility man when the season`s at its sharp end; becoming a bit of a Pablo Zabaleta (the dependable adaptee) despite tending to play centrally most often. Mario Balotelli has recovered from a knee injury in time to play after his match winning performance in Western Romania. However, expect to see him adorn the bench rather than the left wing.
The only other change I expect to be made from last week`s goalless draw with Spurs is the inclusion of Emmanuel Adebayor over Shaun Wright-Phillips:
Possible Starting Team:
5) Zabaleta - 28) K Toure - 4) Kompany - 19) Lescott
7) Milner - 34) de Jong - 42) Y Toure
9) Adebayor - 32) Tevez (c)
Player to watch: James Milner
City`s new No.7 will be thrown in at the deep end by Roberto Mancini who ironically, will consider selecting Milner over the very man he replaced at Aston Villa - Gareth Barry. Providing Milner replaces one of either Barry or de Jong, he will add some much needed driving force and passing ability to what is a very defensive minded midfield. I am very upset at the loss of Stephen Ireland, I was sentimentally attached to the quiet Irish lad who came from nowhere despite showing occasional flashes of brilliance. Unfortunately though, that one good season went to his head and he`s now at Aston Villa like another City favourite Richard Dunne. Despite my disappointment i`m very pleased with the signing of Milner who possesses the one thing I think will prevent Ireland from reaching the very top despite being extremely gifted; the motivation, determination and attitude to keep going when things aren`t going so well. Milner isn`t gifted with even half of Ireland`s talent but he`s brilliant at what he does and is more skilful than many will credit him for.
Liverpool Team News:
Liverpool`s only major cloud of doubt hangs over Daniel Agger who was concussed in their first Premier League fixture of the season against Arsenal at Anfield. Javier Mascherano is expected to fit again after limping-off against the Gunners and should take his place in defensive midfield. Joe Cole has hardly enjoyed his first few weeks on Merseyside after getting sent off last week for a lunge on Koscielny before missing a penalty against Trabzonspor in the Europa League.
On that note, I expect Gerrard to be moved further up-field; filling Cole`s vacant position whilst his own void will be filled by one of Lucas Leiva or Kop new-boy Christian Poulsen. Finally, Fernando Torres is expected to pull on a Liverpool starting shirt for the first time in yonks, replacing the quietly impressive David Ngog in attack.
Possible Starting Team
2) G. Johnson - 23) Carragher - 37) Skrtel - 6) Aurelio
20) Mascherano - 21) Lucas
18) Kuyt - 8) Gerrard - 14) Jovanovic
Player to watch: Fernando Torres
The talismanic front man is expected to return to the side after a series of extended lay-offs that have seen his form tail off for both club and country. Torres is pure quality, we all know that. But he`s not the player he was 12 months ago. However, he`ll pick up his form again he`s just too good not too. Torres has great acceleration and will intend to spin off in-behind our defence, let`s just hope that VK and Kolo are on hand to halt the Spaniard.
Match Facts & Stats
Five of the last 7 Premier League meetings between these teams have ended as draws - including both games last season.
Only 16 goals have been scored in the last 11 league matches between the sides.
Manchester City won 40 of their 67 points at home last season.
City have gone three Premier League games without a win and have won just one of their last six league games.
Head-To-Head Record: 159 matches; 79 wins for Liverpool, 40 for City and 40 draws.
In my opinion, City are fans are going to have to face up to the fact that we're not going to start the season with free-flowing attacking football and 6-0 wins. Everyone's lording Chelsea at the moment but you`ve got to remember they`ve played West Brom and Wigan. They`ve also got a very settled squad. Anyway, it`s going to take us a while to 'gel` properly and develop a team spirit and for now I predict we`ll have to rely on the quality of our individuals. However, there have been glimpses of what`s to come and hopefully we`ll show some moments of real quality tomorrow that will be enough to win us the game. Finally, despite this game being very early-on in the season this fixture carries much importance and we really must win if we are to show we mean business and silence the haters within the media. However, I think City will do enough to earn three points. Prediction: MCFC 2 - 1 Liverpool
Thursday, 26th August v FC Timisoara @ 20:00 (H)
Sunday, 29th August v Sunderland @ 15:00 (A)