Manchester City vs Liverpool
Monday, August 25
Liverpool travel to face Manchester City in the Premier League on Monday night having completed the £16million signing of the former Etihad Stadium favourite, Mario Balotelli.
Brendan Rodgers’ side will have to do without the fiery Italian striker as they could not get the deal registered in time for the second match of Manuel Pellegrini’s defence of the Premier League title they snatched away from the Reds in the closing stages of last season.
Liverpool were in control of the title race before a dramatic collapse handed over the initiative to the Citizens, thanks largely to Steven Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea at Anfield and the quite unbelievable draw away at Crystal Palace.
Opportunity to grasp
The meeting with Manchester City will be seen as a good opportunity to show the Premier League champions that last season was not a one-off and they have the ability to challenge once again.
However, results so early in the season do not have a huge bearing on the remainder of the season, so Pellegrini was unlikely to risk star centre-forward Sergio Aguero from the start as the Argentina international isn’t yet ready to play 90 minutes.
Here are the teams…
Hart, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Kompany, Clichy, Fernando, Nasri, Toure, Silva, Jovetic, Dzeko.
Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Milner, Navas, Aguero.
Mignolet, Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno, Gerrard, Coutinho, Henderson, Allen, Sterling, Sturridge.
Subs: Jones, Manquillo, Sakho, Toure, Can, Markovic, Lambert.
Manchester City make a single change from their 2-0 victory over Newcastle United on the opening weekend, with Pablo Zabaleta coming in for Aleksandar Kolarov. Fans of the champions will be expecting to see Aguero at some point in the fixture.
Meanwhile, Rodgers hands a debut to summer signing Alberto Moreno who comes in at the expense of compatriot Javi Manquillo, though Glen Johnson will move over to right-back to make way for the Spain international left-back.
Joe Allen comes in for Lucas Leiva as reports emerged over the weekend that a loan deal to Napoli was on the cards, while new arrival Lazar Markovic is on the bench and could make his debut.
The two meetings between these sides last season were both highly entertaining affairs, with the home side coming out on top in both matches.
Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet made something of a howler in the corresponding fixture last term, helping City take a 2-1 victory after Philippe Coutinho had opened the scoring midway through the first half.