Premier League | Anfield | Sun 1 Mar | 12pm
The early afternoon after three/five nights before.
- Besiktas p1-0 Liverpool (EL)
- So’ton 0-2 Liverpool (Prem)
- Liverpool 1-0 Besiktas (EL)
- Palace 1-2 Liverpool (FAC)
- Liverpool 3-2 Spurs (Prem)
MAN CITY FORM
- Man City 1-2 Barcelona (CL)
- Man City 5-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Stoke 1-4 Man City (Prem)
- Man City 1-1 Hull (Prem)
- Chelsea 1-1 Man City (Prem)
The last week was not a particularly good one for English clubs in Europe - but there's no better way to get over continental disappointment than by winning a big Premier League fixture.
Liverpool will still be reeling from their Europa League elimination at the hands of Besiktas on Thursday evening, while Manchester City will be trying to work out how to dig themselves out of a hole against Barcelona.
Before Thursday evening's penalty shootout defeat in Istanbul, the Reds were technically on an 18-match unbeaten run (their League Cup semi final defeat at Chelsea came in extra-time). Their previous defeat in 90 minutes came on their last meeting with a Manchester side - the 3-0 defeat at United in mid-December.
Clearly, this is Liverpool's biggest test since Old Trafford, and although they've beaten three of the current top eight in their last four matches, they have yet to take three points off any of the current top four this season.
For their part, City haven't always looked convincing when facing the elite either - and not just in their Tuesday evening defeat to Messi & Co. They've drawn twice with Chelsea, taken just one point from two matches against Arsenal (against whom they also lost in the Community Shield) and were perhaps a tad fortunate to beat the 10 men of Manchester United back in November.
They did at least win the reverse fixture in August with a reasonable degree of comfort, but Liverpool, despite their midweek frustration, are a different animal now.
This feels like a defining match for both teams. A win for the champions would close the gap between them and Chelsea to just two points, with Jose Mourinho's side not in Premier League action this weekend. Losing and that gap potentially opening to eight would make the title near irretrievable.
Having looked like their league season was a write-off in the autumn, Liverpool are now looking as strong a contender as any for a Champions League spot. A win for the Reds would see Brendan Rodgers' men move into the top four, as long as Southampton fail to win at West Brom and Manchester United lose 8-0 at home to Sunderland. Okay, fine, but it'd still be a good result.
Neither team is particularly impressive at the back, and both are clicking into gear going forward. There should be goals and 'lols' in equal measure.
Liverpool will most likely be without Steven Gerrard (hamstring) and Lucas Leiva (groin), but will hope to welcome back Mamadou Sakho (hip) and Jordan Henderson (square), both of whom missed the Besiktas match. City have a clean bill of health, with Manuel Pellegrini facing a decision over whether to persist with the 4-4-2 formation from recent matches. Doing so may see Wilfried Bony make his first start.
Player to watch: David Silva (Man City)
In last weekend's emphatic win over Newcastle, Silva proved that, even when he's not dominating a match in terms of near-constant touches, he can do damage. Although six City players (and Newcastle's Yoan Gouffran) bettered the Spaniard's 45 completed passes at the Etihad last Saturday evening, none of them created more chances than the former Valencia man's three.
Not only did he provide a superb lofted pass for Eden Dzeko's goal, but also showed his value from set-pieces by twice presenting team-mates with chances from corners. Oh, and, errrrrm, he scored two incredible goals, too... Liverpool will need to make sure Silva isn't afforded too much time on the ball.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- City 3-1 Liverpool (PL, Aug 14)
- Liverpool 3-2 City (PL, Apr 14)
- City 2-1 Liverpool (PL, Dec 13)
- City 2-2 Liverpool (PL, Feb 13)
- Liverpool 2-2 City (PL, Aug 12)
“We didn’t come to lose, we came to win,” said Rodgers after an under-strength Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League at Besiktas. “It was a good game, not much in the game and the pitch was very difficult for both teams.
“For us we now just have to concentrate on a league campaign that is going very well for us, and we have another cup competition [through to the FA Cup quarter-finals] – that was always the aim for us, to do well in a cup competition this season."
“It's important not to make the same mistakes - we can't have a player sent off every game against Barcelona," said City boss Pellegrini after his team were beaten 2-1 by the Spanish giants.
“We repeated the same mistake as last year, having a player sent off. It's very difficult to play against Barcelona with 10 men. We couldn’t put three passes together in the first half and there was a bit of confusion. We managed to be calmer in the second half, we pressed well and did well to hang on and almost get something from the game.”
Facts and figures
- Arsenal are the only team to prevent Man City from scoring in their last 23 Premier League matches.
- Silva has scored 9 Premier League goals in 2014/15, his best tally in a single Premier League season.
- Man City have scored the most goals from outside the penalty area (10) and are the only Premier League team not to concede one from range.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Goals. Four of them. 2-2.