5 Key Battles That Will Shape Manchester City's Clash with Liverpool

Rob Pollard@@RobPollard_Featured ColumnistAugust 23, 2014

5 Key Battles That Will Shape Manchester City's Clash with Liverpool

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    The top two in last season's Barclays Premier League go head-to-head on Monday night at the Etihad. Manchester City and Liverpool will both be looking to build on their opening day wins in what promises to be a great early-season encounter.

    City beat Newcastle 2-0 at St James' Park on the opening weekend and showed flashes of their quality, while Liverpool struggled to a 2-1 home win over Southampton. Both teams will be in better shape for this match.

    Here we take a look at the five key battles that could define the match at the Etihad.

1. David Silva vs. Lucas

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    David Silva, who opened his account for the season with a goal against Newcastle last weekend, is City's main attacking threat. He is the architect of City's most dangerous attacks, with his ability to float around the pitch and pick passes his defining skill.

    Lucas is Liverpool's chief destroyer, often employed to nullify an opposing side's main danger. He could very well be asked by Brendan Rodgers to keep a close eye on Silva in this game, and if he can keep the Spaniard quiet, Liverpool's chances of success will be greatly increased.

2. Sergio Aguero vs. Dejan Lovren

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    Sergio Aguero's injury troubles in the past six months mean Manuel Pellegrini probably wanted to use him sparingly in the opening weeks of the new season, but his wonderful goal after coming off the bench at Newcastle means the temptation to start him against Liverpool will be strong.

    If he does play, Liverpool's new signing Dejan Lovren will have a difficult task stopping him. Aguero looked sharp during his St. James' Park cameo, his trademark pace causing all sorts of problems. It won't be an easy night for Lovren and the rest of the Liverpool back four.

3. Vincent Kompany vs. Daniel Sturridge

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    The movement of Daniel Sturridge is what makes him so difficult to mark. He's quick, intelligent with his runs and is always looking to pull defenders out of position by drifting into space.

    In fact, he's exactly the kind of striker Martin Demichelis struggles to contain, and therefore Vincent Kompany's role in this match becomes ever more important. Minimising Sturridge's impact is key for City

4. Aleksandar Kolarov vs. Raheem Sterling

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    Raheem Sterling can operate in numerous positions, but Rodgers may well be tempted to ask him to go up against City full-back Aleksandar Kolarov on Monday evening. Kolarov can do all sorts of damage when he's allowed the freedom to attack, but Sterling is capable of pinning him back.

    The Liverpool man is fast becoming one of the most consistent and dangerous players in the Premier League. Wherever he roams in this match, City will need to stop him.

5. Manuel Pellegrini vs. Brendan Rodgers

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    Tactically, this match is set up beautifully.

    City have it all. Pace, power, the ability to play on the front foot or counter, and have plenty of options to change things during the game if Plan A isn't working. Pellegrini is likely to start with his favoured 4-2-2-2 formation but a three-man midfield is now an option after the arrival of Fernando.

    Rodgers is a very tactically astute manager, and he tends to alter his side's shape multiple times during a match. He may look to set his side up to play on the break, using their pace to hit City on the counter.

    It looks set to be an absorbing contest.