Hassan Chamas

What: English Premier League
Who: Manchester City (4th; 45 points) versus Liverpool (5th; 44 points)
When: Sunday 21st February, 2010, at 15:00 GMT
Where: City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester, England

Fourth-Place Finish

Manchester City and Liverpool will lock horns in this weekend’s biggest Premier League clash, knowing that the result could very well influence who takes the vital fourth place. Considering Liverpool’s below-par season, the Citizens will undoubtedly have a golden chance to claim the last Champions League qualifying place as their own.

It was supposed to be a quiet week at the City of Manchester Stadium, but it has been filled with incident, especially with Patrick Vieira’s ban after his kicking of Stoke’s Glenn Whelan. The Frenchman’s actions went unnoticed by referee Alan Wiley, but the FA acted and Vieira will miss out. Further to the midfielder also came an alleged bust-up between Roberto Mancini and Craig Bellamy. Whatever the truth of the matter, such talk shows the importance placed on this game.

From Madrid to Unirea

A lot has changed for Liverpool over the past year. Going from humiliating Real Madrid a year ago to sloppily coming out on top of Romanian side Unirea Urziceni earlier this week, the Reds are no longer the force they once were. Granted, they’ve won on occasions when nobody expected them to, but they also admirably lost when victory seemed all but a certainty.

After procuring the advantage in their Europa League tie with Unirea, the Merseysiders will have to swiftly change their focus to league football as they attempt to take back fourth position from City, knowing that anything other than a top-four finish could signal a true catastrophe for England’s most successful club.

Recent form

Manchester City:
Manchester City 2-0 Bolton Wanderers (Premier League)
Manchester City 1-1 Stoke City (FA Cup)
Stoke City 1-1 Manchester City (Premier League)

Liverpool 1-0 Everton (Premier League)
Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool (Premier League)
Liverpool 1-0 Unirea Urziceni (Europa League)

Key absences

Manchester City: Craig Bellamy (doubt); Vincent Kompany (doubt); Michael Johnson, Martin Petrov, Patrick Vieira (suspended), Carlos Tevez

Liverpool: Sotirios Kyrgiakos (suspension); Yossi Benayoun (doubt); Fernando Torres; Glen Johnson

Players to watch

Manchester City – Adam Johnson: An absolute revelation ever since he joined from Middlesbrough earlier this month, filling Robinho’s void with ease. A strong showing against Liverpool this Sunday will undoubtedly raise his World Cup chances.

Liverpool – Daniel Agger: The onus will be on the Danish international to keep the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor & co. at bay. The ex-Brondby man has seen his season hampered by injuries so far, and will be keen to make up for his lost time.

Match prediction

A lot has changed ever since the clubs’ 2-2 draw in the corresponding fixture this season. With key players such as Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun expected to miss the trip across the M62, it will be hard for Liverpool to come home with the spoils, and as such, a Manchester City win seems most likely.

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