One team in the title race, the other not quite sure where it’s heading. Manchester City are losing ground in the race for the Premier League championship, and can’t afford to lose more points. Liverpool might be headed to Europe, but it’s not sure how, and hard to tell if they’re good enough to make it.
It was just over a year ago that Liverpool crashed and burned at the Etihad Stadium in what turned out to be a disastrous 2012, losing 3-0 from goals by Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and James Milner. City are not nearly as confident as they were last season, struggling to keep up the pace with Manchester United in the title race, now falling 10 points behind with a match in hand, but their home record is fantastic, except for that 3-2 loss against Manchester United.
When you look at this season, including the 2-2 draw at Anfield earlier on, one of Liverpool’s best matches ruined by foolish mistakes by Martin Skrtel, it’s been Brendan Rodgers failing to establish himself as a top side manager. Liverpool have won only against clubs from the bottom half of the table, failing to beat all the “bigs” that they were once part of, looking from above at the likes of City, Tottenham and Everton.
For City, it’s been about the difficulty of finding sparks and creativity on the pitch. When Samir Nasri plays he’s often off form, while the defense, the one that used to be heralded last year doing the championship run, is suffering from inconsistency (injuries and form) while Joe Hart is having somewhat of a down year in his usual fine ability between the posts.
Javi Garcia, who hasn’t really impressed since arriving from Benfica, has been switched to centre back due to all the injuries, a role he filled well in QPR, a match mostly remembered for the saves Julio Cesar made. Manchester City play the same way all the time, which does tell about their players’ familiarity with the system, but also tells about their dogmatic nature, and having problems steering away from the plan.
Predictions – Believe it or not, the way Liverpool choose to play might be the deciding factor. A negative, even scared tactic and performance won’t be enough to get a point like it was against Arsenal in the middle of the week. Manchester City are the better team, but missing key players might help them drop two more points if Liverpool actually play to win this match.