Manchester City take to the field against Liverpool knowing that they are 10 points behind rivals Manchester United at the top of the Premier League with the Red Devils having won at Fulham yesterday.
The defending champions must now close the gap on the leaders to seven points and that is the message that Roberto Mancini will be hammering into his players as his culminates a week that saw Mario Balotelli end his entertaining and dramatic spell in Manchester by completing a transfer to AC Milan.
City have been hit by the news that captain Vincent Kompany could be ruled out for a further three weeks with a calf problem and so Mancini will be boosted by Matija Nastasic’s return to the starting XI to partner Joleon Lescott after only being fit enough to sit on the bench in the midweek draw at QPR. Maicon and Micah Richards remain the only other injury problems at the Etihad Stadium, though both are hopeful of returning to fitness this month.
Liverpool came away from the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night with mixed feelings after playing fantastically well to race into a deserved 2-0 lead that could have been more, only to be pegged back to 2-2 and arguably lucky to come away with a point in the closing stages. However, the Reds remain firmly in the chase for Champions League football and will travel to the Etihad high in confidence after winning their on their last trip for a League Cup semi final last season.
Pepe Reina, Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique all returned from injury against the Gunners and should keep their places, with Enrique possibly stepping up from the bench, allowing Glen Johnson to move across to right-back. New signing Philippe Coutinho will not feature, with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge expected to continue their promising partnership up front.