Saturday, August 25, 2012

Match Preview: Liverpool vs Man City

Liverpool face a tough challenge to bounce back from their defeat on the opening weekend as they welcome champions Manchester City to Anfield.

Brendan Rodgers' honeymoon period in the Anfield hot seat came to an abrupt end last Saturday when his side was put to the sword at The Hawthorns.

Daniel Agger saw red and Joe Cole pulled a hamstring again as Liverpool slid to a 3-0 defeat against the side now coached by their recently departed number two, Steve Clarke.

Their new manager had one eye on the visit of the Premier League champions when he rested several senior players for the midweek Europa League tie against Hearts.

Rodgers will be keen to impress the Anfield faithful in his first league game since taking charge, and memories will be fresh from a spirited two-legged win over City in last season's Carling Cup semi-final.

But whether Andy Carroll will be involved on Sunday remains open to question. The striker was absent from the win over Hearts with a slight hamstring twinge, but overall the England international does not appear to fit into Rodgers' long-term plans.

The L4 postcode is not the happiest of hunting grounds for Roberto Mancini, who has yet to win a game in three visits to Anfield - and is also without a victory when taking City to the blue side of Stanley Park.

But the Italian takes his team on the short trip along the M62 on the back of a stirring comeback that ensured they started their Premier League title defence with three points.

The 3-2 win over Southampton recalled the astonishing way they clinched the title in May, but Liverpool will have noted how City conceded with the first-choice defence of Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott in the ranks.

Jack Rodwell will get a warm reception if selected for a swift return to Merseyside, but Nigel de Jong may get the nod ahead of the former Everton man. Indeed the Dutchman would relish the chance, having bagged a rare, and spectacular, goal at Anfield in the Carling Cup in January.

A win for City would be their first at the home of the five-time European champions since Nicolas Anelka's last-minute strike gave them three points in May 2003.


Captain Steven Gerrard will be back after being rested for the Europa League tie against Hearts, while Luis Suarez, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson are also set to return.

Luis Enrique could also be in the mix after being forced to miss the defeat to West Brom with a knee injury. Cole's involvement must be under question after he aggravated a hamstring injury at the Hawthorns.

Daniel Agger is out due to the one-game ban the Dane received for his red card against West Brom. Andy Carroll missed the midweek Hearts game with a hamstring twinge.

Sergio Aguero's knee injury, sustained early in the win over Southampton, keeps the Argentinean out for around a month and leaves Mancini with an interesting choice over who to partner Carlos Tevez.

Edin Dzeko looks to be in pole position having scored off the bench last week, and Mario Balotelli had a poor time at Anfield in this fixture last season, getting sent off just 18 minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Gareth Barry is still absent following surgery on the abdominal problem that kept him out of Euro 2012, while Micah Richards' ankle injury could keep him out until the end of October.

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