Sunday, 1 March 2015 12:00 GMT
Brendan Rodgers` men face the defending champions Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday as they look to claw their way into the holy grail which is the top four.
Liverpool versus Manchester City has always been a fixture to watch out for in the past few ears, especially since the Abu Dhabi Group took over the blue half of Manchester. The fixture between these two clubs last season was a thriller, to say the least and Liverpool just about managed to clinch the game in the end. Manchester City, had the last laugh though, as they ended title winners ahead of the Merseyside club who fell agonisingly short in what would have been their first title since 1989. This time, however, the tide has turned and Liverpool are battling to get into the top four, while City are trying as hard as they can to catch league leaders Chelsea.
Team news, tactics and lineup
After a slow start to the first half of the season, Liverpool have just about to hit the straps in the second half of the season and are sitting on top of the table based on form in 2015. Their only worry would be the energy sapping defeat on Thursday against Besiktas in the Europa League. Brendan Rodgers did rest some of his regular starters in Henderson and Coutinho in Turkey and they would make their way into the starting eleven on Sunday.
With Sakho ruled out of this one, Emre Can would continue his nowadays familiar role as part of the back three with Toure and Skrtel forming the backbone of the defence. Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson look like sure starters in central midfield with the impressive Ibe and Alberto Moreno lining up on the flanks. It remains to be seen if Sturridge starts this game against his former club as he looks short of match fitness since his return from injury. In that event Sterling may play up top like he did against Southampton supported by Coutinho and Lallana. The performance of Coutinho has lit up Liverpool`s performances in the major parts of the season, and the little Brazilian has just begun to do bring goals to his game.
Probable Starters (3-5-1-1): Mignolet; Can, Skrtel, Toure; Moreno, Allen, Henderson, Coutinho, Ibe; Sterling; Sturridge.
Just like their hosts this weekend, Manchester City`s venture in Europe was a huge disappointment. Sure, Joe Hart`s late penalty save did hand them out a lifeline, but their general play throughout the 90 minute period was not exactly awe inspiring. The midfield struggled for creativity without Yaya Toure, and his presence on Sunday will come as a much needed boost for Manuel Pellegrini. The Ivorian hobbled off early in the same fixture last season which ultimately proved to be the turning point. City will look to Yaya Toure to provide the impetus from midfield and make the team tick. Silva, Nasri and Aguero always perform better with Toure around and Sunday should give us a good spectacle if the City midfield turns up. Wilfried Bony should make his much awaited full debut and his partnership with Aguero will cause some problems to the Liverpool defence. Fernandinho, who didna t start against Barcelona, has a major task in hand against his compatriot Coutinho and the battle between the two Brazilians will have a huge bearing on the game.
City`s defence has been suspect in recent times, especially since the defeat against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup. Kompany, their talismanic captain will most probably have to contend with the tricky Sterling in what will be another fascinating battle. Martin Demichelis will most probably play alongside the Belgian with Clichy and Zabaleta lining up against Ibe and Moreno.
Probable Starters (4-4-2): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy; Nasri, Silva, Toure, Fernandinho; Bony, Aguero.
Player to watch out for
The little Brazilian scored one of the best goals of the season so far against the Saints and he proved the difference in last season`s game between the two at Anfield. Well rested and in very good form, he will once again look to help the Reds claw their way into the top four after it seemed improbable during the latter stages of last year. City should be wary of his movement and his ability to thread in passes through the eye of the needle, especially with willing runners in Sterling and Sturridge playing ahead of him. The game promises to be a thriller and would be even more entertaining if Coutinho has a good day on the turf.
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester City
Despite City having a very poor record at Anfield for a long, long time, Sunday`s game is theirs for the taking. The Europa League`s Thursday-Sunday schedule will most certainly takes its toll on Liverpool which immediately puts City on the driving seat. The start is crucial as always, and Liverpool would love to get an early goal. The Reds` record at home has not been that good and City would be hoping to make the Anfield faithful anxious.
1. Only Fraser Forster (12) and Ben Foster (10) have kept more clean sheets than Simon Mignolet this season.
2. The last time Manchester City managed a win at Anfield was back in May 2003.
3. Only Arsenal have prevented Manchester City from scoring in the last 23 games.
4. The Reds have 14 different scorers in the Premier League. (joint top alongside Arsenal)
Blast from the past