This match couldn’t have come at further wrong time than this as both teams are finding it hard to shrug off the injury shocks that have come during the festive period. A win in this match could prove send a massive message across the league, while a setback for either of the teams won’t decide too much as indicated by the minor point gap between the top four.
Liverpool have won only 1 of their last 5 away games in the Barclays Premier league.
Liverpool are still without Enrique and Sturridge as the duo is out of the squad with knee and ankle issues respectively. Steven Gerrard has made a speedy recovery and thus could be available on the bench as early as in the weekend clash against Chelsea. Another Injury setback for LFC is of a sparkling young talent Flanagan, with the defender a doubt for the clash with a hamstring problem. These injuries have limited Rodgers’ options to only 17 players and that too at a period where squad depth is crucial.
Liverpool haven’t won a match in which they conceded first so far this season.
Liverpool are likely to promote young Brad Smith onto Left Back role, as the young full back looks set to impress in the probable absence of Flanagan. With no more changes in the team expected, they Liverpool are likely to go with a 4-4-2 formation, with Sakho again starting in front of Danish International Agger.
Having scored 29 goals and a 100% win ratio in 8 home games, only one team has managed to concede less than 3 goals at Etihad. That describe the fear factor Liverpool would be looking to overcome when they become hosts to the Citizens. At the start of the season, it was Man City’s strike force that was termed as lethal, however their midfield is not too far.
Out of 47 goals City have scored this season, 23 have come from the midfield.
This in itself a huge threat for a LFC side that have instilled young blood into their midfield successfully this season, it will be interesting to see who the midfield battle evolves at the Etihad.
Having had Aguero on the sidelines for more than a month from now on, Peligrini could be without Zabaleta as well as the defender is in contention for earning a place back if he could nod his injury away. Other than that, Joe Hart is expected back in the lineup after the English International’s impressive displays for City in Champions League.
City would be going with the same 4-4-2, a formation which has produced goals but has also leaked goals at the back as well. In last 6 matches, City have managed only 2 clean sheets, and this could be the stat which could test City’s resolve against the high flying Suarez.
I am going for a win for City, but it will be the first goal that could probably denounce or support this. An early Liverpool goal could be leading LFC fans to a perfect 90 minutes, however if City managed to score early, floodgates could be opened at the Etihad against LFC.
Amir Bashir follow him on Twitter.