Liverpool's recent form has been hugely impressive. They've won nine straight matches in the Premier League, scoring 24 goals along the way at an average of 2.7 per game.
The big question for Manchester City this Sunday at Anfield, is how to stop Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge from continuing their rampant run and inflicting a potentially fatal blow to City's title challenge.
The key for Manuel Pellegrini will be blocking the halfway line—denying Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard the time they need to pick passes and set Liverpool's lightning-fast attackers in motion in the final third.
Yaya Toure and Fernandinho are the ideal players for the task. Both are world-class central midfielders with energy and dynamism. If deployed correctly, and providing they play to their potential, the combination has the ability to frustrate Liverpool and starve Suarez, Sturridge and Co. of the balls they usually feed off.
Toure and Fernandinho will just sit in front of City's back four. From there they can press and put Liverpool's midfield under the kind of pressure they're not usually used to. Only City and Chelsea—with Nemanja Matic, Ramires etc.—have holding midfielders of genuine Champions League class in England's top flight.
Liverpool have to face both between here and the end of the season.
Should they breach City's midfield pair, however, the pace of Sturridge and Suarez could be the difference. Martin Demichelis is second-to-none as a reader of the game, and performs very well against a certain type of forward, but is unquestionably vulnerable against dynamic movement. Liverpool bring that in abundance.
The key for Brendan Rodgers on Sunday is assuring his Liverpool team play to the tempo we've seen in their nine-game winning run. If they slow to continental pace, City could pick them off. Liverpool must bring a high-intensity game to Anfield and be bold.
I don't expect Rodgers to shuffle his starting lineup. His most telling influence will likely come in-game—deciding which substitutes to use and whether to stick or go for broke should the game be in the balance with 25 minutes to play.
In Suarez, he has a striker as good as any we've seen in the Premier League. What's fascinating at this juncture of his career, is whether Suarez is now seeing Liverpool as his long-term future, or whether he's already thinking about a big move this summer after the World Cup.
My final word on this Sunday's game is in Liverpool's favour. Let's not forget they've already achieved their aim of a top-four finish. Anything more will just be the cream on the cake. There's a freedom in that that City don't enjoy.
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