Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Manuel Akanji confident Manchester City can end Anfield hoodoo

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 7 Mar 2024

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Manuel Akanji feels it is about time Manchester City put an end to their Anfield hoodoo.

The champions travel to Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday in a crucial clash at the top of the table.

Second-placed City are widely considered the favourites for the title but their record at the home of the Reds is notoriously poor.

City have won just once at Anfield in front of a crowd since 1981, when Nicolas Anelka scored a double 21 years ago.

They did triumph there 4-1 behind closed doors in 2021 but the atmosphere will be completely different this weekend.

City defender Akanji said: “It definitely will be massive. The winner will go to the top of the league. I don’t want to talk about the title race but it would be a big win for us.

“We haven’t done the best there in the past – but why not change it this weekend?

“We know how hard it is but we’ll go there and try to get the three points like we always do.

“I’ve only played there once – we lost there 1-0 – but it’s a really good stadium, the atmosphere is great and the team is one of the best and that’s what makes it difficult.

“But in the end we just focus on us, even if the crowd is pushing them. If we put on the type of performance we want then I think we can win the game.”

Akanji was on target as holders City rubber-stamped their place in the Champions League quarter-finals for a seventh successive season with a routine 3-1 victory over FC Copenhagen on Wednesday.

The Switzerland international opened the scoring at the Etihad Stadium with a fine volley on five minutes and Julian Alvarez quickly doubled the lead with help of a goalkeeping error.

Former Southampton player Mohamed Elyounoussi pulled one back but Erling Haaland wrapped up a 6-2 aggregate triumph with his 29th goal of the season.

Manager Pep Guardiola said his side played with the belief they could win the competition again but Akanji did not want to look too far ahead.

Akanji said: “I hope so – that’s what we play for, to win it – but we’re into the quarter-finals now and we’ll see.

“Right now it looks good but it doesn’t mean it will be good for the rest of the tournament. There are still a lot of games ahead. There are important games in England now, with Liverpool and then the FA Cup quarter-final. Then more league games.

“So we focus on those first and see who we get in the next round.”

March is a key month for City with a home clash against Arsenal, the other side in the title picture, also to come.

Akanji said: “Our next two league games are pretty big. I can’t say they are decisive for the league but will be important for how the rest of the season goes.”

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