Just three days after beating them on penalties in the Capital One Cup final, Manchester City take on Liverpool at Anfield as they look to reignite their bid to win the Premier League title.
Over the piece, Liverpool did extremely well to force extra time and indeed a shootout on Sunday as they were second best for the majority of the encounter and survived several near misses from City, but for boss Jurgen Klopp and his team defeat represented a huge disappointment, while it extended the club’s four-year trophy drought. They grew stronger as the match wore on, but the Reds suffered going forward from a lack of coherence in possession, with too many passes going astray.
In goal, Simon Mignolet had very mixed fortunes as it was his mistake that led to City taking the lead although at least three world class saves kept his side in contention, and he is bound to have more work to do here up against the relentless Sergio Aguero. This game is also likely to see Lucas Leiva continue in central defence, a role he filled with admirable solidity at Wembley, so much so that he arguably emerged as the man of the match.
This is an important game for the hosts as the seek to lift themselves out of mid-table mediocrity, but City really do need a result as leaders Leicester City are beginning to look difficult to catch from their perspective. A lot has happened since they last played in the Premier League, where Manuel Pellegrini’s men suffered a potentially damaging defeat at the hands of Tottenham. The last week will have given them plenty of confidence, so it might be the beginning of a storming City run.
As for Pellegrini, he has at least ensured that he will leave the club at the end of the season having delivered silverware to add to the two titles he won in 2014, and his decision to play Willy Caballero in goal on Sunday was vindicated emphatically by events in the shootout. The former Malaga stopper was immense under pressure and has made a name for himself at City, but it is likely to be Joe Hart in goal for this one. Meanwhile, the profligate Raheem Sterling knows exactly what kind of reception he will be given by the home crowd.
Mamadou Sakho will hope to feature for Liverpool after he was forced off with a head injury at Wembley, while Joe Allen could return following a hamstring problem.
There are no new injury worries for Man City, who are still unable to call upon Kevin de Bruyne, Fabian Delph and Samir Nasri.
Last Meeting: Two stunning goals gave Liverpool victory in this fixture almost exactly a year ago, with Jordan Henderson firing a stupendous shot past Joe Hart to open the scoring early on. Man City hit back with a beautifully worked goal of their own which was finished off by Edin Dzeko, but Philippe Coutinho had the final say as he came inside to slam a rasping shot beyond Joe Hart from 25 yards.
Played for both – Steve McManaman: The first nine years of a highly successful career came at Liverpool, as McManaman helped win the FA Cup in 1992 and made 240 Premier League appearances, and scored 41 goals before moving to Real Madrid, where he won plenty of medals. He finished his career at Manchester City, turning out 35 times in the top-flight between 2003 and 2005.