Liverpool head to Eastlands on Monday night to take on a Manchester City side that has invested over £129m this summer, on the talents of Yaya Toure, James Milner, Mario Balotelli, David Silva, Aleksandar Kolarov & Jermone Boateng.
Despite the players City have added to their squad and a tough opening day fixture against Arsenal, the Reds may find themselves facing Mancini’s men at a good time, as the side is clearly going to take time to gel before any real fluency of football is played on a consistent basis and there was certainly evidence of that against a more established Spurs side that they struggled to keep at bay for the first 45mins last weekend.
Both sides took just the one point from their opening day fixture, as Liverpool conceded a late goal against Arsenal due to the misfortunes of Pepa Reina and Manchester City had the heroics of an inspired Joe Hart to thank, for keeping Spurs out at White Hart Lane, in game that surprisingly finished 0-0.
On the injury front it is the Reds that are the better positioned, as their only major doubt remains over Daniel Agger who is recovering from a concussion, with Javier Mascherano expected to return to the side after picking up a minor calf injury against the Gunners. City however have Boateng (knee), Kolarov (ankle), Bridge (foot), and Michael Johnson (knee) all definitely ruled out of the game with new signing, frontman Mario Balotelli formerly of Inter Milan, recovering from a minor knee complaint the only one likely to face a late fitness test.
Liverpool see new arrival Joe Cole start his 3 game suspension, following the straight red card he received on the on the stroke of halftime last weekend. Captain Steven Gerrard is expected to take up Cole’s position in midfield, one he is used to playing in during Rafa Benitez’s time at the club. His own position deeper in the centre of midfielder is expected to be contested by other new arrival Christian Poulsen and the Brazilian Lucas Leiva who has grown in stature over the last 12 months.
After getting another 45 minutes under his belt against Trabzonspor in Liverpool’s Europa League tie on Thursday, striker Fernando Torres is in contention for his first start of the season and to lead the line against a juggled City back four. The teams head into this fixture with five of the seven previous meetings between these sides ending in a draw. Despite the millions of pounds spent by Manchester City to try and find a place in the top four of English Premier League football, they haven’t managed to take all 3pts against a Liverpool side in a home fixture since April 2005.
Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio, Mascherano, Lucas, Kuyt, Jovanovic, Gerrard, Torres
Manchester City (4-3-3)
Hart, Zabaleta, K Toure, Kompany, Lescott, De Jong, Y Toure, Barry, Milner, Tevez, Silva
Match Official: Phil Dowd