The league leaders begin their Christmas schedule on Boxing day with what is probably the toughest match in English football right now – playing against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. For Liverpool, the league leaders but also the underdogs, it’ll once again be about getting the most from Luis Suarez, hoping it’s enough.
Considering that Liverpool also have to play against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, a draw wouldn’t be such a terrible way to start the Christmas schedule. However, playing for a draw, which means Brendan Rodgers moving away from the lineup that’s been so successful recently, with Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson lifted by Suarez’ excellent form.
Manchester City are without their top scorer, Sergio Aguero, but probably still have a formidable enough front line, be it Alvaro Negredo or Edin Dzeko (on the bench most likely) starting in the striker role, while Samir Nasri, Jesus Navas and David Silva play behind him.
The big battle in this match will be won in the midfield, and it’ll be about Yaya Toure and Fernandinho playing against the Liverpool trio, although Lucas Leiva doesn’t really get himself involved in anything too defensive. If Silva or Nasri drop back often to help out with possession, Liverpool are going to have a problem in that area, but they also have Coutinho for that.
Luis Suarez is the man everyone will be talking about before and probably during the match. It’s not just his 19 goals so far this season. He has scored 10 in December alone, with no other player ever scoring more than 8 goals in a single month; not just this season, but in Premier League history. He has a chance to reach 30 goals in 2013 (29 goals in 26 matches so far). One of the most telling things about how involved and important he is to Liverpool? Despite missing the first five league matches this season, his 149 touches in the box are more than anyone else’s in the league.
The most frightening thing for Liverpool heading into the Etihad? Manchester City are the only team in the Premier League with a perfect home record (8-of-8), not to mention scoring at least on goal for 58 consecutive matches inside their home ground. Liverpool, on the other hand, aren’t arriving with the best of away records, winning only one of their last five matches outside of Anfield, that being the 5-0 drubbing of Tottenham.
Prediction – There have been a lot of draws between these two sides recently, and this match seems like another one. Brendan Rodgers won’t approach this one too defensive minded like he has in big matches before, while Manchester City will find that beating a very confident Liverpool side is going to be a lot more difficult than in their matches against Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United.