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Preview: Man City v Liverpool

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Jamie McDonald

This is going to be a doozy of a match. It's a little disappointing that it comes so early in the season, with both teams still trying to get up to speed, but it will still be a good one.

Mario Balotelli will get a warm welcome back to the Etihad, probably much warmer since he will be watching from the stands rather than the bench. It will be good to have him back in the Premier League.

Man City team news: Eliaquim Mangala and Alvaro Negredo are the only two that are unavailable to play today. Mangala needs more time before he can slot into the lineup, and that's a good call. Negredo is still working back from his foot surgery. Other than that, everyone is healthy and available. A few players are still not 100% (Pablo Zabaleta, Sagna, Fernandinho, Aguero), but are available if Pellegrini chooses them.

Predicted lineup: Joe Hart, Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Fernando, Yaya, David Silva, Nasri, Jovetic, Dzeko.

I think that we see largely the same lineup as last week, but with Zabaleta getting his spot back. Aguero will most likely come off the bench later, for either Jovetic or Edin Dzeko, but I think Pellegrini lets Jovetic get another shot to impress at the start.

What to watch for:

1. The strength of the Liverpool team is winning the ball, and then looking to pass quickly on the break to the Sterling/Sturridge/Coutinho combo. The Liverpool buildup play is never that great, with a big weakness being that they get packed in too tight in the final third. However, if they hit you with a few defensive players too high up the pitch, it's over. The key for Man City will be Fernando, and he will have to be on top of his game to shield the back four.

2. Kolarov/Dzeko combination. These two have a better connection in the final third than almost any other two man combo. Last week against Newcastle they looked off. There were a few times that it looked dangerous, but mostly they were not on the same page. I expect them to get back on track, with some good shots on target as a result.

3. Will Pellegrini make a switch if we are getting overrun in the midfield? Liverpool know that if they can win the ball back in the center, they can go on the break without Yaya being a defensive threat. If we are getting killed there, it wouldn't be a shock to see a striker come off for Fernandinho to shore things up.

Prediction: There will be goals. I honestly see this game going either way, and expect it to come down to whichever manager picks the right players to come on. Both managers have a knack for choosing the right change, so it will be interesting to watch. I think that our firepower up front will be enough to win the game though.

Man City 3 - 2 Liverpool