Manchester City vs. Liverpool: Previewing ICC Clash of English Powerhouses

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Manchester City vs. Liverpool: Previewing ICC Clash of English Powerhouses
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Jesus Navas (No. 15) reacts after scoring his goal against AC Milan.

Manchester City continues its International Champions Cup play in New York on Wednesday evening as it faces Liverpool at Yankee Stadium. This match, slated for a 7 p.m. ET kickoff, brings the top two teams from last year's Premier League together in Group B play.

Both teams enter the contest having won their opening matches of the tournament on Sunday. City dismantled a sorry AC Milan in Pittsburgh by a 5-1 scoreline, while the Reds hung on in Chicago for a 1-0 win over plucky Olympiakos, which had previously thrashed Milan itself.

The last time these two sides met, Liverpool pulled off a 3-2 win at Anfield in April, putting it firmly in the driver's seat to win the Premier League title. But a 2-0 loss to Chelsea and a 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace saw the title slip from Steven Gerrard and company and fall to Vincent Kompany's crew.

Wednesday's match has decidedly less on the line but is still one worth keeping an eye on.

Liverpool is a much-changed side from when City saw it three months ago.

Gone is Luis Suarez, who was sold to Barcelona after Uruguay's World Cup exit. But in are a host of players, including Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana from Southampton, Lazar Markovic from Benfica and Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen.

New man Markovic has already made a big impression on his coach and teammates based on his showing in Chicago on Sunday afternoon. Despite unleashing this poor effort early on in the match, he put in a strong debut at Soldier Field.

Midfielder Jordan Henderson reserved some praise for the Serbian for his post-match interview with the club's website:

I thought he was brilliant. It's his first game and he gelled really well. He kept getting the ball, taking players on; he looked really lively so I think he'll be delighted with his game.

He's very creative; he's great with the ball, playing one-twos and [making] runs in behind all the time so he's a great threat for us going forward, especially on the counter-attack.

He's a great signing and a great plus for us.

Rodgers had some nice words of his own for his new signing, saying the 20-year-old "will only get better and better. He showed great strength when he burst through and hopefully later on when he picks up that speed and sharpness in his game, he'll go on and finish that," referring to the wayward strike.

City have made some big additions in their own right, having signed Bacary Sagna, Fernando Reges and Willy Caballero. The Frenchman has not featured yet while he rests after the World Cup, but the latter two have played prominent roles in the club's American tour.

Fernando, who joined after a somewhat protracted move from Porto, has very much looked the part in midfield. He's acted as the destroyer of sorts, breaking up the opponents' play to help set up his side's dynamic attack.

Caballero has rejoined his old manager at Malaga, Manuel Pellegrini, and has been in solid form thus far as he looks to challenge Joe Hart for the starting place between the sticks.

However, it's been some not-so-new signings as well as youngsters who have shone brightest in the USA.

Jesus Navas has been an absolute firecracker down the right flank, utilizing his pace, silky touch and crossing ability to continually trouble defenders. He also managed to sneak over to the left side to pick up his goal—an absurd, deflected scissor kick—against Milan.

Stevan Jovetic has stepped up to the forefront in the absence of the injured Alvaro Negredo, bagging a brace in Pittsburgh on Sunday. He was a dynamo in the middle, proving a problem for the likes of Adil Rami and Alex and deservedly picking up recognition:

Should his hot form continue into the season, expect Pellegrini to hand him more time to relieve Sergio Aguero or Edin Dzeko when necessary.

Additionally, Scott Sinclair has done his chances of staying at City no harm with some impressive showings thus far. He's looked back to the form we saw him in a few years ago at Swansea and picked up a deserved goal of his own against Milan.

Beyond the incumbent players, it's been youngsters Bruno Zuculini and Kelechi Iheanacho who have made the biggest waves among City players.

Zuculini, a 21-year-old Argentine recently signed from Racing Club, put in a powerful show in Kansas City that he topped off with a spectacular half-volley for a goal on his debut. He's looked a promising prospect for the future—it's no wonder Valencia are going after him, according to Simon Jones at the Daily Mail.

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Kelechi Iheanacho has shown immense potential.

Easily the biggest revelation of City's preseason has been 17-year-old Iheanacho. The young Nigerian first burst onto the scene at the Under-17 World Cup last year, bagging six goals in the tournament. He's since picked up a goal in each of his new side's first two games in the States.

Nacho has exhibited a number of supreme qualities already at his tender age, so City fans and coaches alike will be hoping to get his work-permit situation handled as soon as possible.

As is usually the case when English giants clash, Wednesday's match between City and Liverpool has a lot in store for fans. Given the massive enthusiasm in the area surrounding New York City FC, part owned by the City Football Group, expect a largely blue crowd at Yankee Stadium.

And, of course, expect an entertaining show on the pitch.

 

How will this match play out? Leave your thoughts in the comment section and drop me a line on Twitter.

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