Sunday at Anfield is the place to be as football fans gear up for a clash that is reminiscent of modern day football. In the Red corner we have Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool, five times European cup winners, and the team that has set the benchmark for domestic success.
In the Sky Blue corner we have Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City, big spenders who are looking to use their financial clout to achieve the very same dominance their famous neighbours and Liverpool have achieved over the past dour decades.
The odds against a Liverpool may seem low, especially as City have dominated the Premier League, smashing opponents and dropping only two points so far. But, ever since a 2-1 win in 2003, City have not beaten Liverpool at Anfield in their last eight encounters.
This season Liverpool have spluttered and lost priceless points to Stoke, Norwich and Swansea. Despite big spending, King Kenny’s team is still short of gelling together as a unit.
The first team is still a working plan in progress, and last week Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing were left on the bench for the smash grab win at Chelsea - a clear signal from the Reds gaffer that no one is guaranteed a starting place and first team chances will be earned on merit.
To this effect Maxi Rodriguez was a case in point, slotting into the first team and firing the opening salvo last Sunday at Stamford Bridge. Dalglish resisted calls for Jamie Carragher to return to the first team fold, instead relying on Martin Skrtel to man the rearguard
When it comes to defeating the high flyers Kenny Dalglish holds the key. Apart from a capitulation at White Hart Lane, after two red cards, Liverpool have seen off Arsenal, Chelsea, and held Manchester United to a draw at home.
The team has coped very well in the absence of talisman Steven Gerrard and Dalglish has bought out the best in those who have replaced him, namely Charlie Adam who has displayed the all round, all action game to more than adequately fill in. Adam may not possess Gerrard’s power and pace, but he possesses guile, is great in dead ball situations, has vision and very clever movement that makes up for that one yard of pace.
Dalglish may continue with the same formation in attack by letting loose Craig Bellamy to hopefully wreak havoc on his old team mates.
The Red rearguard will need to be water tight to deal with the threat of any two from Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Mario Ballotelli, and the cavalry in the mesmerising form of David Silva, protected by a ring of steel consisting of Joleon Lescott, Vincent Kompany, Nigel De Jong and Micah Richards
The win against Chelsea has been a tremendous boost for Liverpool and buoyed with the confidence of beating their West London rivals they are capable of achieving a positive result against City.
City will be feeling deflated after reverting to defensive tactics and losing to Napoli in the Champions League and Liverpool will look to capitalise on this setback.
Much will depend on the early exchanges and how each team goes about business thereafter. In a cut out and keep moment, it is Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United that will be rooting for Liverpool on Sunday.
Apart from Gerrard, Dalglish has no injury worries. Manchester City may be sitting pretty, five points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League, but they have only managed to win once in 14 league visits to Anfield dating back to 1992, and go into this game without a victory on Merseyside in eight years.