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Manchester City v Liverpool: Match preview

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We have the first blockbuster game on our hands on just the second fixture weekend of the season as last years Premier League champions Manchester City host runners up Liverpool in what looks set to be a thrilling game that could prove vital come the end of the season.

The pair were three points apiece last campaign when meeting twice - the Reds took a 3-2 victory at Anfield after a late Phillipe Coutinho strike gave Liverpool the win however in this fixture on Boxing Day however, it went to the Manchester club as Vincent Kompany and Alvaro Negredo's goals handed the champions the three points.

It won't be the first time the pair have met this season either - both jet-setted to America for pre-season and played to a 2-2 draw with Liverpool then winning on penalties. 

Team News

Liverpool lined up with nine of eleven players that they had in their squad last season against Southampton last week despite manager Brendan Rodgers bringing in eight (now nine with Mario Balotelli signing) new faces to Merseyside.

Some of those signings were disrupted by injuries with Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana in the sick room and did not feature along with left-back Alberto Moreno not being eligible to compete after his paperwork was not finalised, following his move from Spanish side Sevilla. Despite Lallana still being sidelined, both Markovic and Moreno are now eligible and will likely feature.

As for City, they had a few key players being benched due to lack of fitness following their countries doing well in the World Cup; they including fan-favourite Pablo Zabelleta, midfield powerhouse Fernandinho and goalscorer Sergio Aguero. Another weeks fitness will likely see at least one, if not all return to the starting XI.

Last week's games

The Reds started their campaign by a 2-1 home victory of Southampton. It was an under-par performance from the five time European Champions who lacked flair going forward, particularly because Phillipe Coutinho could not impact the game.

However, Raheem Sterling stepped up to the plate, calmly slotting home the first after a superb through ball from Jordan Henderson and then the youngster found Daniel Sturridge for the winning goal.

We also saw the much more clarity at the back and that was because of £20M signing Dejan Lovren who commanded the Liverpool defence.

The Premier League champions also began with three points as they travelled to Newcastle and took the tie 2-0. It was a decent enough performance from City however there is much room for improvement with David Silva being the stand-out player pulling the strings going forward and managed to grab himself the first goal.

Impact on this week's team news

Alberto Moreno can and will likely make his debut replacing Glen Johnson on the left hand side of defence. This will be nothing but a positive for the Reds - first of all we have a natural left-footer who will feel much more comfortable than Johnson who was on his weaker side. Further, Moreno is out-and-out a better player than the England international; he is solid defensively, likewise going forward and he reminds me of a Leighton Baines with the style he plays. 

As for Markovic, he is unlikely to start from the beginning however will make an appearance off the bench. The £20 million signing will offer Liverpool pace coming on to impact the game and run down tired legs at the Manchester City defence.

We could also see another new face of Liverpool, Emre Can, make his debut and replace Lucas in the centre of midfield. Lucas is rumoured to be moving away to Napoli this summer and it was a surprise he started against Southampton - it was likely that Can had a knock and being rested for the fixture and I see the German starting.

On the City side, we will probably see Sergio Aguero lead the front line and he could be a menace for centre backs Lovren and Martin Skrtel. He netted last week after coming off the bench, proving how vital his goals and maintaining fitness could be to the Manchester club retaining the title.

As for Zebeleta, he gives 200% every game and the Argentine will really get into Raheem Sterling - he's an experienced veteran and don't be surprised it he really hits Sterling with a hard tackle in the early stages.

Match Preview

Last season, Liverpool went away to both City and Chelsea and took the lead. Rodgers takes no fears when playing away and will try these tactics again. His counter attacking play will come through Coutinho in attacking midfield, who will try and pull the strings feeding Sturridge and Sterling. I think that Manchester City could be ready for this and we could see the Brazilian man-marked by Fernandinho throughout the game. 

I see the game starting at an extremely fast pace - end to end football with both teams desperately trying to grab an early goal. Based on last season, I see Liverpool's pace of the new SAS getting behind the high line of the home side and going one up.

If Liverpool fail to get another quickly however, it will be a long rest of game. City are formidable at home and their quality in the squad they posses could put Liverpool under a lot of pressure.

The improvement that the Reds can rely on his a much improved defence and Rodgers would have worked hard in training to counter David Silva who will be key to a City victory, much like Coutinho. If Can does start, I see him having the difficult task of man-marking the Spanish International, which will be no easy task.

The positive in Liverpool's favour have is that they couldn't have travelled to City at a better time. With players like Aguero, Zabelleta and Fernandinho possibly not fully match fit, it will be the away teams advantage. If this game was two weeks down the line, I'd be fancying City to win, however I think that Liverpool should be enough to nick a point.

Prediction - Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool

Goalscorers

Raheem Sterling to bag early for Liverpool and Yaya Toure to snatch one back before half time

Predicted line-ups

Manchester City: Hart, Zabelleta, Kompany, Demichellis, Kolarov, Nasri, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Silva, Aguero, Dzeko

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Can, Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling, Sturridge

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Topics:
Football
Liverpool
Premier League
Manchester City

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