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Preview : City v Liverpool

Clive Rose

This is going to be a tough match. The absences of Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta are going to be huge problems. We were still able to score goals without Aguero, but he is the kind of big game player that is essential for this game.

The bigger problem is going to be the hole at right back. Gael Clichy had a rough game, and he didn't have to worry about going up against anyone like Suarez. I doubt that we'll see him play there against Liverpool. Luis Suarez is at his most dangerous when he finds pockets of space between the fullback and the central defender, and then makes a diagonal run in behind. The kind of tactical soundness that will need to be maintained calls for someone to be in the right place in defence at all times. I don't think we're going to see much attacking movement from the right back, whether Milner starts there, or Pellegrini sticks with Clichy.

The other tactical problem in this game is going to be found in the midfield. Liverpool have been on fire with the combination of Lucas Leiva, Jordan Henderson, and Joe Allen. Lucas sits very deep, almost as a 3rd central defender, while the other two move around wherever they want to. In the win against Cardiff, Henderson was often found cutting in from the left flank, combining passes with Coutinho and Suarez.

It will be easy for City to be overrun in the center if Yaya or Fernandinho aren't having great games. I expect Silva, Navas and Nasri to alternate sitting deeper, allowing for more passing outlets for the two central midfielders.

I bet that we end up playing Negredo alone up front, with Silva sitting behind him. That will allow for better presence in the midfield, and for more focused counterattacks.

Speaking of counterattacks, we're going to see a lot of that from City. It's doubtful that we see a lot of patient probing passes. Look for Fernandinho and Yaya to sit deep, winning the ball back before starting a counter attack. A lot of our success will be up to Nasri, Navas, and Negredo to make clever runs that allow Silva to find them in good areas.

But, no matter how good our attacking shape is, or how good our midfield is at matching up with theirs, the key battle will be between Luis Freaking Suarez and the indomitable Vincent Kompany. As Suarez has repeatedly shown, you can shut down everything that Liverpool want to do but he will seize upon one or two opportunities, and create magic out of nothing.

This week is a fantastic opportunity to put some good points on the board, while the competition has potential to struggle. If we can beat Liverpool, they then have to go play away to Chelsea on Sunday. Arsenal are so tired looking, and they have to play away to West Ham and away at Newcastle. Chelsea are playing Liverpool, and then Southampton.

Prediction : City 4 - Liverpool 2.

Come on City!!