• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Man City face stiff Anfield test for title credentials

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This is being billed as a potential title decider because whoever wins here will have the title in their hands. Liverpool are the Premier League’s form side having won each of their last nine games which sees them four points clear of Manchester City going into this game, and two points clear of Chelsea.

City have played two games fewer than the Reds so a win for Liverpool would make them favourites to win the Premier league.

City are unbeaten in their last seven league games, winning five of them, and head to Anfield looking for their first win there since 2003. A draw would favour the visitors more than the hosts, but the real winners from this weekend as a result could be Chelsea, who play away to Swansea City.

The City defence will face a stern task facing Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge, who have a combined for 49 goals this league season and are the top two scorers in the EPL.

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Liverpool is coming off a 2-1 win against West Ham where they got both of their goals off penalties from Steven Gerrard.

While Liverpool has scored the most goals in the league their defence has given up 11 more goals than Man City this season.

Earlier this season at Etihad Stadium Manchester City beat Liverpool 2-1.

It was a breathtaking game of football that had its fair share of controversy, as Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers wasn’t happy after the final whistle. Jesus Navas hit the post early on for the home side as both sides had chances and Raheem Sterling was ruled offside, when replays showed he was onside when clean through on goal.

But Liverpool took the lead midway through the first half through Philippe Coutinho after good work from Sterling and Luis Suarez allowed the Brazilian to pass home into an empty net. City equalised seven minutes later when Vincent Kompany headed in from David Silva’s corner, and Alvaro Negredo put the home side in front on the stroke of half time when Mignolet ought to have saved.

Joe Hart made a couple of top class saves for City whilst Sterling could have brought the visitors level from close range. Liverpool thought they should have had a penalty late on when Joleon Lescott appeared to tug Suarez’s shirt, only for referee Lee Mason to wave the appeal away.

On the injury front, Jose Enrique is sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee injury but the Reds are boosted by the return of vice-captain Daniel Agger, who missed last week’s win over West Ham with a knee injury. That could give Brendan Rodgers a selection dilemma as Mamadou Sakho put in a very good performance last week and it would be seen as harsh to drop him.

For City, they are likely to welcome back Sergio Aguero into the side after a hamstring problem – which the club have been cautious with so he’s available for this clash. Yaya Toure picked up a knock against Southampton but he should have no problem being fit for this encounter. Matija Nastasic is still struggling with a knee problem and is likely to miss out.

There should be no lack of offence in this match, as Liverpool and City have scored the most goals in the EPL this season.

Man City will be looking to repeat the 2-1 victory at the Etihad on Boxing Day after which Liverpool slipped to fourth in the table having started the day top.

Man City are looking to the League double over Liverpool for the first time in 77 years, since 5-1 and 5-0 wins in 1937. City won their first top division title that year, Liverpool finished 18th.

Man City’s second leading scorer Sergio Aguero is still out with an injury and will likely miss this match. Even with Aguero out the City offence has not missed a beat and Álvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko have combined for 20 goals.

In the loss to City on the road in late December the Reds kept the time of possession battle close, but allowed eight more shots in the match.

One problem City have is they have a poor recent record on Merseyside. They have won only one of their last 20 Premier League visits to Merseyside; drawn 6, lost 13 and that was 2-1 at Goodison in April 2009.

Manchester City haven’t won at Liverpool since the 2-1 win under Kevin Keegan in May 2003. That remains their only Premier League win at Anfield.

As things stand, it’s in both their hands.

Anthony Nlebem