Liverpool return to action on Sunday when they travel to Manchester City. The Reds will aim to secure a repeat of the result they picked up on their last visit to the Etihad when they ran out 1-0 winners in last season’s Carling Cup semi-final first leg. Earlier this campaign, the teams played out a 2-2 draw at Anfield. The corresponding fixture last season ended with a second consecutive 0-3 defeat at Eastlands and the Reds have won just one of their last six league visits to the City of Manchester Stadium, failing to score in five of those matches.
City’s only home defeat of the campaign came against Manchester Utd in December where they suffered a 2-3 reverse, ending a two year unbeaten spell at home in the league. The only other teams to have taken points from Manchester City at home this season were Arsenal and Everton, with both sides leaving with a 1-1 draw. To emphasise the daunting task that lies ahead, Manchester City have won 36 of their last 41 home matches in the Premier League, drawing four and suffering just the one defeat.
Manchester City are missing Vincent Kompany (calf), Micah Richards (knee) and Maicon (knee) through injury, while Yaya and Kolo Toure are at the Africa Cup of Nations representing the Ivory Coast.
Reina is the obvious choice for goal especially after the Jones horror show in the FA cup. In defence, rightly or wrongly, Flanagan, Robinson and Coates are unlikely to be anywhere near the team. Assuming the usual line up of 4 in defence, the likely choice is Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique, if Enrique is fit to start. Wisdom and Carragher will drop out. I like Carra, but he never was fast, and is likely to be a weak point with a mobile attack of Dzeko, Aguero, Tevez. In midfield Coutinho is still sorting out his work visa I believe, and this is too high profile a game for a debut. Better to settle in and acclimatise and introduce slowly, as LFC always used to do with new players. The midfield 3 on current form should be Lucas, Gerrard and Henderson, with Allen dropping out to join Shelvey, Suso and Borini on the bench. That leaves Downing or Sterling on the wing. The combination on the left wing of Downing and Enrique has been a revelation and I would like to see that continue. That would mean Johnson and Suarez on the right.
Suarez and any player would be a great combination, and the Johnson combination is probably the best. Added to this is the general decline in performance of Sterling over the last 2 months, and the increase in reliability of Downing, I feel Stewart will get the nod. However, if Enrique does not play, then I expect that to affect the whole line up in that Sterling is likely to be on the wing, and Wisdom at right back.
PREDICTED LINE UP
Defenders: Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique
Midfielders: Lucas, Gerrard (c), Henderson,
Strikers: Suarez, Sturridge, Downing
Liverpool’s Premier League record away from home against Manchester City:
P: 15 W: 3 D: 8 L: 4 F: 15 A: 18 GD: -3 Pts: 17
Liverpool’s overall league record against Manchester City:
Total – P: 153 W: 75 D: 39 L: 39 F: 271 A: 202 GD: +69
Away – P: 76 W: 29 D: 21 L: 26 F: 112 A: 107 GD: +5
Ray Clemence, Ian Callaghan and Emlyn Hughes have the most appearances for LFC against Man City with 25 each, while Steven Gerrard (23 appearances, five goals) has the most from our current squad. Ian Rush has scored the most goals against City with 15 from 20 appearances, while both Kenny Dalglish and Gordon Hodgson netted 11 times from 16 appearances. Our former goalkeeping coach Joe Corrigan has the most appearances for a City player against Liverpool with 28.
Some famous names have crossed the Liverpool – Manchester divide with four players joining the Reds from Manchester City including Matt Busby (£8,000; 1936), Robbie Fowler (free; 2006) and Craig Bellamy (free; 2011), while
eight Liverpool players have signed for City with the most notable names being Steve McMahon (£900,000; 1991) and Nigel Clough (£1.5m; 1996).
LFC win 20%
MCFC win 65%