Today, the reds of Liverpool take on the current league leaders Manchester City in a titanic and eagerly awaited tussle at Anfield.
Following mixed fortunes for the top sides after yesterday’s fixtures, this is an opportunity for Liverpool to gain a further three points and open the title race just a little bit more. A real chance, although admittedly a difficult one, for Liverpool to improve their disappointing home form that has blighted them thus far this season. Man City are top of the form table for away matches so this will be a stern test for the reds. That said, Liverpool’s record against the top placed teams is creditable so far this season, so you can by no means rule out a victory for them.
I would imagine that this is too big a fixture for Kenny Dalglish to risk making many, if any changes to the defence that performed so well against Chelsea last time out. Thus I would expect to see the back four of Jose Enrique, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson remain intact. I believe the midfield is going to be the deciding factor and I’ll be surprised if Dalglish starts with Bellamy. Although personally, I believe this to be the best option, it’s likely that Dalglish may prefer to start with Stewart Downing on the left switching regularly with Jordan Henderson or Dirk Kuyt on the right. Charlie Adam and Lucas are almost nailed on to start in the centre of midfield.
The situation upfront remains a concern for me. It’s conceivable that Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez will start together upfront but I would prefer Bellamy starting in a role behind Suarez if he doesn’t play in a midfield wide role. Carroll is still some way off form and a second half substitute if required. Bellamy has a point to prove against Manchester City, and what better match in which to do so. In terms of tactics, I expect Liverpool to set out a fast tempo and attack early on as is generally their style at home and look for the early goal. However, as Roy Evans pointed out this week, Liverpool must improve their second half displays and refrain from taking their foot off the pedal and allowing teams to get back into the game. This, for me, is a confidence thing. Although the players are forever in the press talking each other up etc., I still don’t think they have the real confidence to back that up. We’ll see today but playing for 90 minutes is an absolute must.
As for “Citeh”, I expect Sergio Aguero to start up front again for the sky-blues and not many more changes to the team that defeated Newcastle last week. City lost in midweek to a poor Napoli side, and they’ll be itching to put the record straight. It will be interesting to see how they respond. Will questions begin to be asked if they loose a second game in succession? Will the pressure get to Roberto Mancini’s men? Well let’s hope Dalglish’s Liverpool side can put them in that situation.
This is a very difficult one to call. Last week I was very optimistic ahead of the Chelsea game and the team duly delivered. A draw wouldn’t be a disaster for Liverpool but like any fan, I’d prefer the three points and I’m sure the team will be doing what they can to get the win.
A loss is something I would rather not contemplate.
By Ben Green
Follow me on Twitter @Mrbengreen