Manchester City will be keen to pick up all three points when they host Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Cross-town rivals and league leaders Manchester United have edged seven points
in front at the head of the table and could be even further clear by the time
this clash kicks off.
Manchester United travel to London to tackle Fulham on Saturday, meaning City’s
encounter with Liverpool is a must-win match if they are to stay in touch for a
second consecutive league title.
But Liverpool are a much improved side under manager Brendan Rodgers and will
prove no pushover.
Rodgers’ side have lost just one league game in 2013 – against Manchester
United at Old Trafford 2-1 – and have moved up to seventh place on the table to
remain in touch with those teams battling it out to qualify for European
football next season.
City are undefeated so far in 2013, but were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw
at QPR in their most recent league counter as they dropped valuable points in
the chase for the title.
Roberto Mancini’s side have conceded just 19 times in the league this campaign
through 24 matches and no team can boast a defensive record even close to that.
Third-placed Chelsea have the second best defensive record in the league, but
they have let through five more goals than City and Liverpool have conceded 30
That makes us think that goal-mouth action is going to be a premium in this
clash, despite the fact that there were four goals when the two teams met
earlier in the season.
On that occasion Carlos Tevez netted in the 80th minute to rescue a point for
City in an entertaining match at Anfield that saw Yaya Toure, Luis Suarez and
Martin Skrtel also get on the scoresheet.
Of course both teams look a bit different now, given the recent January
transfer window saw every team in the top flight – apart from West Bromwich
Albion – bring in at least one new player.
City signed Ghanaian striker Godsway Donyoh then loaned him out to Swedish side
Djurgarden, while controversial front man Mario Balotelli left England to join
Italian giants AC Milan.
Daniel Sturridge has already made his Liverpool debut after signing from
Chelsea last month, while talented midfielder Philippe Coutinho found his way
from Inter Milan to Anfield and is in line to play his first game against City.
Last season City beat Liverpool 3-0 at home in the league, but it was a
different story in the Carling Cup one week later at the same venue when the
Merseyside club registered a 1-0 victory.
Liverpool have no new fresh injury concerns for this clash, while City have
doubts over Vincent Kompany (calf) and Micah Richards (knee) and the Toure
brothers – Yaya and Kolo – remain away at the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory