Wednesday, 22 August 2012

City vs Liverpool: Match Preview

Liverpool's luck set to run out

By Dave Walker

Roberto Mancini was dubbed ‘Uno Fortunato’ – ‘The Lucky One’ throughout his glittering playing and managerial career with the likes of Sampdoria, Lazio and Inter Milan.

It wasn’t intended to undermine his achievements with Serie A titles and Coppa Italia’s aplenty, it was just the Italian media’s way of saying he was somehow blessed with good fortune as well as outstanding ability.

Well, his Manchester City team could do with a slice of ‘fortunato’ this Sunday having won just one league fixture in the past 31 years at Liverpool.

City are stuck on an unlucky 13 all-time wins at Anfield but must fancy their chances of recording their 14th as they begin their away record in defence of their Premier League crown.

It could be argued Mancini used all his luck up when City won the title in the last minute of last season, not forgetting last weekend’s narrow win against a plucky Southampton.

He’ll be hoping his team will banish their strangely inept opening day showing – albeit they won - and revert to type, to heap more dismay on new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers after the Reds’ 3-0 walloping at West Brom.

City fans are all playing the guessing game as to when Mancini will roll out the 3-5-2 formation that served the team so well in pre-season – and asking what’s the criteria for switching to the very well known 4-4-2 that helped us to Premier League glory last season.

The bid to bring Daniele De Rossi in from Roma would have given the City boss an array of riches at the back and in defensive midfield. Sadly De Rossi is staying put in Rome, but only after City insiders had believed they’d clinched the signature of one of the most influential players in the game.

However, we move on, with the City boss still keen to reinforce his squad before 11pm on 31 August.

Doubtless we’ll see changes in the line-up at Liverpool. James Milner was incredibly unfortunate not to start in the opening fixture after a superb performance in the Community Shield and as an influential sub for England against Italy.

Likewise Nigel De Jong was at his tigerish best against Chelsea in the Community Shield. Will they both play to add some bite against what is traditionally a physical Liverpool side?

Sergio Aguero is an obvious casualty, but hopefully only until mid-September. City’s title challenge would be severely hindered if Sergio was sidelined for a prolonged period.

Who will partner Carlos Tevez up front? The once errant Argie is now back to his best and one of the first names on the teams heet, so will Edin Dzeko or Mario Balotelli get the start?

As much as Samir Nasri came alive against Southampton, David Silva was the polar opposite, subdued and out of touch. Not the form to be showing when you are allegedly asking for £200k a week in wages! Hopefully normal service will be resumed by the man from Gran Canaria.

Events in Liverpool this week could have a profound effect on the early stages of the title race.  A rare Anfield win, aligned to Manchester United’s failings at Everton will keep City well on course.

There’s a certain unpredictability about Liverpool and City matches so let’s hope City make it a lucky 14th or, at the very least, emulate last season’s 1-1 and 2-2 draws in the red half of Merseyside.

Player watch

             David Silva           vs           Steven Gerrard

             Photo 1: Alex Livesey/Getty Images Europe     Photo 2: Clint Hughes/Getty Images Europe 

City’s ‘Merlin’ failed to conjure up his usual magic against Southampton after a long, but victorious, summer with Spain at the Euros 2012. City fans will forgive Silva the blip, but if he’s off the pace on Sunday it will give England skipper, Gerrard the chance to dominate.

Silva’s silky skills and vision need to be deployed creating openings and feeding the ball through to Tevez & Co with pinpoint precision.

Gerrard – so long the soul of the Liverpool team – will want to engineer another uncomfortable Anfield experience for the men in Sky Blue so City need to smother him and deny him both time and space at every opportunity.

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2012

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