Sunday’s clash between Liverpool and Manchester City certainly poses a lot of questions for both teams. Will Manchester City cope without the services of their talismanic Argentinian goal machine Sergio Aguero? Will Liverpool be able to nullify the threat of Manchester City with the loss of arguably their best defender Daniel Agger? Clearly there are a number of sub-plots to the game, yet as these games have illustrated in the past, making predictions is incredibly difficult and picking an outcome for Sunday remains an impossible task.
The Rodgers era got off to a disappointing start last Saturday at West Brom. Yet in spite of the final score line there were a number of positives to take from the game. The opening half saw Liverpool dictate the flow and tempo of the game with great aplomb and but for some careless finishing they would have led at half time. Certainly, the philosophy the Rodgers has brought to the club will not be adopted in a single match. Yet the signs during the opening half of this game were nevertheless encouraging. Aside from a few wasted opportunities particularly from Luis Suarez, Liverpool largely controlled play and this is something Rodgers is sure to have emphasised to his players all week. The league debut of Joe Allen also highlighted the new style that should make Anfield an entertaining ground to visit this term. However the team’s display during the second half was completely unacceptable.
Conceding three goals away fro home is no disaster, but to basically capitulate in the manner that Liverpool did after the loss of Agger is somewhat worrying. The substitution of Lucas certainly opened up the game and left the Liverpool rearguard horribly exposed, something that will not happen this weekend. Sunday should see Liverpool reaffirm their commitment to their new footballing philosophy under Rodgers. Whether it will be enough to defeat City is debatable but it will certainly test the champions in all facets of their game.
Last weekend City, while scoring three goals and missing a hatful of chances, looked vulnerable at the back. This is an area that Liverpool need to exploit if they are to claim the first victory of the Rodgers era. Players like Stewart Downing need to showcase their ability and Sunday is the perfect occasion for Downing to properly “launch” his Liverpool career. With the movement of Suarez upfront and the attacking nous of Allen and Fabio Borini, Sunday represents a golden opportunity for Liverpool to open their Premier League account against the best team in the country.
Certainly City will not roll over and with David Silva certain to perform better then he did last Sunday, they too will expect a much higher level of performance. The loss of Aguero is significant; as he is there go-to guy up front — although a rejuvenated Carlos Tevez will carry a major threat. The game will possibly be decided in midfield and with the colossus of Yaya Toure, City will fancy their chances. However, Liverpool has the luxury of Lucas Leiva and Steven Gerrard, and will be confident these players will be able to lead them to victory.
Predicting an outcome for such a clash so early in the season is impossible, but it is a game I believe Liverpool will not lose.