Manchester City vs Liverpool

Last season, running neck and neck towards the Premier League title, the two matches between Manchester City and Liverpool produced some excellent football and quite a lot of drama. Matches this early in the season are sometimes hard to gauge because things are still coming together, but both teams showed in the first week that scoring shouldn’t be a problem.

While Liverpool came up with what could have been a milestone match on the way to the title that never came in a 3-2 win over the eventual champions thanks to a late Philippe Coutinho goal, Manchester City won the first encounter, coming back from behind again, although being outplayed (Especially in the first half) and enjoying some bad refereeing to disallow a Liverpool goal for offside, coming away with the 2-1 win.

Unlike Chelsea or Manchester United (a club that prides itself of being very different from their city rivals), Manchester City haven’t made significant changes this off-season. Eliaquim Mangala has arrived, true, but that has been the only big signing and he still isn’t fit to play. Frank Lampard, a minor signing these days, won’t be available either. It’s like that City, coming off a convincing 2-0 win over Newcastle, will start once again with Edin Dzeko, probably with Stevan Jovetic next to him up front.

Dzeko and David Silva were the team’s best performers in the first week, but the ability of Fernando (or Fernandinho, whoever starts) to handle the overload of Liverpool’s attacking midfielders and free up Yaya Toure will be crucial to how quickly Manchester City will be able to get out on attack. Liverpool showed their defense is far from rock solid at this point of the season, and that should be especially clear to see in a tough away match.

Brendan Rodgers usually shows he has learned from past mistakes, so it’ll be interesting to see his formation for this match. The one-striker mode didn’t work for most of the match in the 2-1 win over Southampton, but this is a tough visit, which might mean Sturridge will be alone up front as well. Balotelli won’t be playing, but Lazar Markovic and left back Alberto Moreno will be available.

The key men for Liverpool will be Raheem Sterling, depending on where Rodgers places him on the pitch, and the midfielder playing next to Steven Gerrard. Lucas was terrible last week and there’s not much left for him to give in a Liverpool jersey. Joe Allen has never been a true DM, but he seems a lot more capable in every aspect to help Liverpool in what is usually the toughest venue in the Premier League.

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