Kick-off: 16:07 (BST), 5:37 AM Pacific
TV Info: NBC Sports Network, Sky Sports 1 HD (UK).
In a clash of epic proportions, Liverpool welcome Manchester City to Anfield on Sunday afternoon, and the match could certainly go a long way in determining who will be crowned the Premier League champions come end of the season.
It is fair to say that very few expected Liverpool to be top of the table at this stage of the season and the fact that the Reds are directly involved in the title race is a testament to the wonderful job Brendan Rodgers has done at Anfield.
Sunday’s mega clash against City are the type of matches the long suffering Liverpool fans have been waiting for all these years and we can be sure that the atmosphere at Anfield will be electrifying.
Heading into the game on such a fine run of form, the belief is certainly there within the Liverpool camp that they can continue their fine run of form with a massive victory against City but that being said, the Reds will have to be at their magnificent best against probably the most complete side in the division.
After a scintillating start to the season, Manchester City have had to put their flamboyant style on hold and grind out results more recently. While at times it has not been pretty, the Citizens have seen out challenge with flying colours and it is certainly a sign a true Championship winning side.
However, all of City’s good work throughout the season could potentially go undone if they fail to claim a result at Liverpool, which emphasizes the magnitude of the game on Sunday afternoon. It might be fair to say that Liverpool away will be City’s toughest test yet and while a victory will surely see them in the driving seat to win the title, a loss could prove to be very detrimental in hopes.
Brendan Rodgers will be able to call on his full strength side at perhaps just the right stage of the season. The Northern Irishman tends to change his system around for clashes against the big sides and that could once again prove to be the case against City.
The back-four will most probably consist of Jon Flanagan, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson but Daniel Agger has also been passed fit for the clash and could be in contention to start.
It will be interesting to see how Rodgers lines up his midfield as in order to negate the threat posed by City, a diamond formation could be on the cards. Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson are sure to take their place in the starting lineup while Lucas could also be handed a start in the holding midfield role with Philippe Coutinho providing the creative spark.
The duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge will be leading the line and will have to be at their best to breach the solid City defence.
Manuel Pellegrini has been handed a huge boost ahead of the clash with the news that star striker Sergio Aguero will be fit enough to start against Liverpool. However, at the same time, it has recently been revealed that captain Vincent Kompany is a doubt after limping off in training with a suspected groin problem and is a major doubt.
If Kompany is ruled out, Joleon Lescott will probably fill-in alongside Martin Demichelis, Aleksandar Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta.
Pellegrini will have a decision to make in terms of whether to go with a five man midfield or stick with the traditional 4-4-2. No matter the formation, the likes of Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and David Silva look like certain starters while the Jesus Navas will be in contention as well.
Sergio Aguero will be leading the line for the Citizens and the City will have a lot of ammunition on the bench in the form of Edin Dzeko, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Flanagan, Skrtel, Sakho, Johnson; Henderson, Lucas, Gerrard, Coutinho; Suarez, Sturridge
Manchester City: Hart; Kolarov, Demichelis, Lescott, Zabaleta; Silva, Nasri, Toure, Fernandinho, Navas; Aguero
Liverpool: W W W W W
Manchester City: W W W D W
26/12/2013 Manchester City 2 – 1 Liverpool
03/02/2013 Manchester City 2 – 2 Liverpool
It will not be an overstatement that the clash between the two sides on Sunday is the most important game of the season.
Both Liverpool and Manchester City have been winning plaudits all around with their respective brands of football and have been the two best teams in the division. But, it is matches like this which differentiates Champions and the contenders.
The match will be a close one and given the attacking prowess both sides contain, the two defences will have to be at their best. Midfield supremacy will be primary importance during the game and the team which can gain the upper hand at the middle of the park will certainly have a great chance of winning.
City have found themselves in pressure cooker situation in the title race before while it might be a bit of an unknown territory for the young Liverpool side. By the same token, City might be cautious while Liverpool will treat the game without any fear.
Liverpool perhaps need the win more than City do but it is not to say that the Citizens will be holding back.
The match will be an entertaining one with a draw maybe on the cards due to the fact that the two sides so equally matched.
Liverpool 2 – 2 Manchester City