Monday, 2 January 2012

Manchester City v Liverpool

A very quick turnaround for City now as Liverpool visit the Etihad Stadium only 2 days after City's dramatic loss against Sunderland. When questioned about the fixture list, Mancini was clearly unhappy that Liverpool got an extra 48 hours rest before what is one of the big fixtures in City's Premier League calendar.

Kenny Daglish will be hoping to capitalise on Arsenal's loss to Fulham as a win would take them above the Gunners into 5th place, level on points with 4th place Chelsea.

Although it isn't title challenging form, Liverpool don't have a particularly bad away form (W5-D1-L3) and despite not scoring as many as at home, they have conceded fewer goals on their travels. They beat Chelsea and Aston Villa away, but also lost to Fulham and drew to Wigan in recent away fixtures. However City haven't lost at home in any competition since a rather frustrating 1-2 defeat to Everton on December 20th 2010

Suarez returns from a one match ban for his one finger salute to Fulham fans on December 5th, but also knowing he almost certainly faces a minimum 8 match suspension starting in the next couple of weeks for racially abusing Patrice Evra. Another charge of the same nature could see him banned from English association football indefinitely.

Despite what has gone on recently and even though he hasn't been in goal scoring form, he is one of the Liverpool players who can really cause problems for defenses up and down the league. Whether he causes problems through his ability to dribble or his ability to feign a foul or injury is another question.

Craig Bellamy is another player who could cause problems if he plays, and after scoring 2 goals against Newcastle the chances are he will feature. It's no secret that he didn't get on with Mancini and putting one over on him will bean appealing prospect for the combative Welshman.

David Silva, Mario Balotelli, James Milner, Micah Richards, and Gael Clichy are almost dead certs to return to the starting lineup. Kolo Toure is a possible other due to playing 2 games in such a short space of time. Mancini will be hoping these players will make the difference against Liverpool.

Vincent Kompany's return to form in recent weeks couldn't have come soon enough as this is the 1st of 3 times City play Liverpool in the next month as well as the 2nd Manchester derby of the season. Although his long passing was a little wayward against Sunderland he has shown he has a fantastic range in his arsenal which helps City attack from the back.

I really hope Gareth Barry plays, as he for me should be getting the player of the month award for December after a string of top draw performances. He is as important to the team as any other player in the squad and City really do notice the difference when he's not in it.

After a couple of disappointing results City will be looking to strike back and continue their great home form with a win against Liverpool, but this may prove to be the toughest game of the season so far.

Twitter: @MikeWalsh1880 or @mcfcDSLeftFoot
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