Liverpool vs. Manchester City: Can the Reds Stun the Citizens at Anfield Road?
Most everyone wrote off Liverpool before they stepped onto the pitch at Stamford Bridge last weekend to take on the Chelsea Blues.
Those sentiments were probably echoed even more when the lineups were announced and Stewart Downing had been replaced by Maxi Rodriguez while £35-million-man Andy Carroll was benched for veteran Craig Bellamy.
However, it proved to be the difference as the Reds barnstormed the first half to a 1-0 lead that should have been at least 2-0.
Many will remember that in the last match between the two at Stamford Bridge in February of 2011 just after Fernando Torres' transfer to Chelsea, Rodriguez missed a sitter that would have put the Reds in front early on.
This go around Rodriguez would not make the same mistake, as his chance came in the 33rd minute from some beautiful buildup play that included Bellamy and Luis Suarez to culminate with the Argentine slotting home a perfectly placed side-footed finish.
Fernando Torres was nowhere to be found as he saw himself marooned on the bench in preference to Didier Drogba.
Not only Torres was expected to make an impact—former Red Raul Meireles, who made a late move to Chelsea in August on deadline day and was the match winner for Liverpool in February, was thought to be a difference-maker for the Blues.
But neither Torres nor Meireles even made a move mentionable as the Blues' bright spots were Drogba in the first half and substitute Daniel Sturridge, who drew them level in the first part of the second half.
All the focus was on the former Reds while everyone, including myself, completely forgot about the former Blue in the Liverpool lineup, Glen Johnson.
Johnson was with Chelsea in the Mourinho years as he made 62 appearances, scoring four goals for the Blues before moving to Portsmouth in 2008.
In the dying minutes of the second half Johnson found just enough space to work his attacking magic, and the English fullback did just that as he weaved his way through the heart of John Terry's lackluster defense to finish beautifully past Petr Cech for the go-ahead goal in the 86th minute.
The Reds took home the win knowing it was only a stepping stone to the major match they face on Sunday November 27th, 2011 when Manchester City come to Anfield.
Last season Andy Carroll made his first mark as a Red with a brace against City at Anfield as the Reds took the match in utter dominance.
This year it is a tougher test as the Citizens are yet to lose a match while the Reds are up and down in form against all opposition week-to-week.
Liverpool have to start out by doing the work at the back like they have all season as they come into the match with one of the best defensive records in the league.
People can say that Martin Skrtel is not that great, that Jaime Carragher is past his prime and that Daniel Agger is a better attacker, but you cannot shy away from the some hard facts.
Can the Reds Pull off Another Great November Victory?
Tottenham is the only club to score more than a single goal at all against the Reds in any match this season, and the Spurs did that with the Reds down players.
Liverpool have four clean sheets and have not allowed more than one goal in a match since September 21st, 2011, the week following their loss to the Spurs.
If the Reds can maintain that stat against City then they have a pretty strong chance of at least a draw.
But that is the key as the Citizens have been rolling out the goals left and right, and their demolition of Manchester United should scare any team.
The Citizens did take two penalties in their victory over Newcastle United last weekend, and it will be a tough match to call as it is unknown which team for either side will show up.
Manchester City also will be fresh off a 1-2 loss to Napoli in the UEFA Champions League—possibly rattling their confidence just enough to allow the Reds to make a great game of it.
Craig Bellamy could be another factor for the Reds if he maintains his place in the starting lineup. It is apparent that his game has only gotten better with age and his creative influence allows some pressure to be taken off of Luis Suarez.
The former Manchester City man will also be the chance spoiler for the Citizens.
A game-winning goal form Bellamy in front of the Kop would be a second great welcome back consolation and a slap in the face to Roberto Mancini and the Citizens front office that seemed to have little faith in the Welshman the last few seasons before finally allowing him to make a return move to Anfield in August.
Sunday afternoon's late game will be a great one for all involved and has the potential to be one of the biggest games of the season for either club.
You can view match preview and predicted lineups for the Manchester City vs. Liverpool game as well as all of the Week 13 matches here: English Premier League: EPL Week 13 Preview and Predictions.
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