What: English Premier League
Who: Manchester City vs Liverpool
When: Tuesday 3rd January, 2012, at 20:00 UK time
Where: Eastlands, Manchester, England

Punch After Punch

December was an awful month for Premier League giants Manchester City. The Citizens were thrown out of the Champions League just when they were destined to make an impressive surge, and have seen their points advantage over second placed Manchester United vanish into thin air. And after starting 2012 with an unexpected 1-0 defeat away to Sunderland, the onus is on Roberto Mancini to pull his men back together.

The good work Mancini has done suffered another blow at the Stadium of Light, with his men losing after controlling much of the proceedings. Chances were created; chances were wasted. Mancini was understandably shell-shocked.

“We deserved to win this game", said the City boss. “I think it’s incredible that we didn’t take three points today. I don’t know how many chances we had but last season we had exactly the same situation where we lost the game with virtually the last kick of the match.”

A win against the Black Cats would have seen the Citizens’ lead at the top of the league table at three points. Now, their work restarts as they prepare to meet Liverpool, opponents City will know very well by the end of January, with a League Cup semi-final to come too.

Perfect Timing

Back to winning ways as they overcame Newcastle on the penultimate day of 2011, Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool have a chance to record an impressive win here against Premier League leaders Manchester City. With the Citizens entering dark times lately, the Reds have the necessary quality to pull off a shock at Eastlands.

Liverpool are confident as they prepare to meet the Citizens, having produced a fine performance the last time the two met, with Joe Hart preventing the 2005 Champions League winners from claiming all three points.
Now, club captain Steven Gerrard believes his side have nothing to fear going into this clash: “Bring it on”, blasted the England international. “They are a fantastic team who have started the season really well but we’ve got nothing to fear. We showed against them here [at Anfield] a couple of weeks ago that we more than matched them.”

Given other top four contenders’ struggles and dropped points, Liverpool have a golden opportunity to set the tone for what could be a special second half of the season. Equally however, with Andy Carroll under the microscope and Luis Suarez looking at an eight-game ban, Dalglish’s men may come up short against England’s most powerful side at present.

Recent form

Manchester City:
Manchester City 3-0 Stoke City (21/12; Premier League)
West Brom 0-0 Manchester City (26/12; Premier League)
Sunderland 1-0 Manchester City (01/01; Premier League)

Wigan Athletic 0-0 Liverpool (21/12; Premier League)
Liverpool 1-1 Blackburn Rovers (26/12; Premier League)
Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle United (30/12; Premier League)

Key absences

Manchester City: None

Liverpool: Lucas Leiva

Players to watch

Manchester City – Sergio Aguero: The ex-Atletico Madrid star has been superb for City and has needed virtually no time to adapt to life in the Premier League. Against Liverpool, he will be expected to start in attack, much to the nuisance of Martin Skrtel and co. A lot will be expected of Aguero.

Liverpool – Steven Gerrard: The Liverpool legend made an impressive comeback against Newcastle and showed the sort of drive that the Reds have often lacked. Whipping in dangerous crosses, Gerrard’s return could have arrived at just the right moment for Carroll.

Match Prediction

Manchester City will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to Sunderland here and certainly do have the talent to hurt Liverpool. For their part, the 3-1 win over Newcastle will have boosted the confidence of Dalglish and co. in front of goal, an area they had been struggling in. Expect an entertaining encounter. Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool.


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