Liverpool vs. Manchester City: 5 Key Battles to Watch at Anfield This Sunday
Both sides started their Premier League campaigns last weekend much like they ended last season: Liverpool with an underwhelming performance away from home, leading to dropped points, and City with an exhilarating last-gasp home win against a newly promoted team.
As they gear up for this Sunday’s clash at Anfield, let’s look ahead at five key battles that will take place this Sunday.
Martin Skrtel vs. Carlos Tevez
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With Daniel Agger suspended after his red card against West Brom last week, Martin Skrtel will likely be partnering the old and creaking Jamie Carragher, who was tormented by Shane Long and Romelu Lukaku on Saturday, in central defence.
Which makes Skrtel an even more important element in Brendan Rodgers’ defence this Sunday.
He had a rough time against the nonstop running of Shane Long last week, and will be coming up against another workhorse in Carlos Tevez.
Tevez has started the season in explosive fashion, having already scored two goals in two games, and he looks back to his best in a City shirt.
Even though Sergio Aguero is out injured, Liverpool should be very, very wary of City’s firepower up front.
Lucas vs. David Silva
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Key to setting up that firepower for City is, of course, their playmaker David Silva, who was so instrumental in their run to the Premier League title last season.
With the ability to spot and string passes like no other, Silva will be the key to unlocking Rodgers’ “seven zones” diagonal system on Sunday.
His opponent for the night will be Lucas, who has returned to the full first-team setup under Rodgers a few months ahead of schedule after his anterior cruciate ligament injury last November.
But he is still finding his feet and has yet to reach full match fitness, which showed against West Brom.
Liverpool fans will be hoping that Lucas returns to his best alongside new signing Joe Allen to stop City’s phenomenal midfield strength.
Steven Gerrard vs. Yaya Toure
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In front of Lucas will be Steven Gerrard, who turned in a well under-par performance at the Hawthorns last week.
After an impressive summer for England at the European Championships, Gerrard seems to still be feeling his way through Rodgers’ system, and his distribution let him down against West Brom.
Looking to pounce on that will be Yaya Toure, who has well and truly taken Gerrard’s mantle as the Premier League’s finest box-to-box midfielder—and indeed one of the best in the world.
Toure might start the match in a position directly confronting Gerrard, but given City’s options in defensive midfield, he might very well end it in a Gerrard-esque advanced role.
A Gerrard vs. Toure attacking midfield showdown is a mouthwatering prospect.
Luis Suarez vs. Vincent Kompany
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Up front for Liverpool will be Luis Suarez, who, if his performance against West Brom is any indication, seems to have inherited his profligacy from last season.
Having finished the 2011-2012 campaign as one of the lowest-converting strikers in the top flight, Suarez may turn to creator-in-chief under Rodgers, who has used him as the left side of a three-pronged forward line in Liverpool’s preseason games.
But whether he will be out on the left or playing through the center, he will come up against one of the league’s finest defenders in Vincent Kompany.
Pacy, no-nonsense in the tackle and solid in the air, Kompany takes some beating, and will relish his battle against Suarez.
Brendan Rodgers vs. Roberto Mancini
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One is a newcomer to the European top flight who honed his coaching skills in the backroom staff and on the training pitch of accomplished managers and teams.
The other played at the highest level, brought untold successes to one of Italy’s most storied clubs and has won English football’s most prestigious trophies in back-to-back campaigns.
Needless to say, while Rodgers has had an extensive career in football even at the young age of 39, he is still a managerial novice when compared to the winning Roberto Mancini.
But this Sunday they will lock horns at Anfield, and Rodgers will hope that his innovative tactical plans are enough to dismantle Mancini’s trusted formula.
Who are you looking forward to watching on Sunday? Predictions for the game? Let us know in the comments below.
Also check out: What Rodgers Got Wrong Against West Brom