The two bookies’ favourites for the Premier League title meet when Liverpool host Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday (13:37 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Liverpool come into the match on the back of nine consecutive league victories that have seen them move to the head of the Premier League table, with 74 points from 23 wins, five draws and five defeats. They are four points ahead of Man City, but have played two matches more.
The Reds laboured a little in the first half of their 2-1 win away to West Ham last weekend, but improved after the break and were worthy winners after out-shooting their hosts 17 to 11, eight to one on target. Their improved second-half performance followed Brendan Rodgers’ half-time decision to switch from a 4-3-3 formation to a 4-3-1-2.
Such flexibility has been key to Liverpool’s success this season, with Rodgers trusting his players to adapt to the changes he has made for certain opponents. The overriding game plan is always the same, namely to transfer the ball to the final third as quickly and accurately as possible, but little tactical variations here and there have proved crucial.
Liverpool’s most talented players are predominately those who operate in forward areas and it is therefore unsurprisingly that goalscoring has been the team’s primary strength this season. Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez (pictured) have 49 league goals between them, while Liverpool as a team have the best goalscoring rate (2.73 per match) in the league.
Rodgers will definitely be without the injured Jose Enrique (knee), but Daniel Agger (knee) is expected to return after missing last weekend’s victory over West Ham.
Man City travel to Anfield having lost just once in their last 20 league matches. They have won five of their last six and are third in the table, two points behind Chelsea in second and four shy of Liverpool, but with two matches in hand over both of them, with 70 points from 22 wins, four draws and five defeats.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side were out-possessed by visitors Southampton last weekend and, indeed, were on the back foot for most of the first half, but eventually emerged as comfortable 4-1 winners. They were pegged back after an early opener, but scored twice in first-half stoppage time and once more late in the second half to take all three points.
Like Liverpool, it is in attack that City have excelled this season. With a myriad of quality forwards (Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero, Stevan Jovetic) and attacking midfielders (David Silva, Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri), City have had little trouble scoring against the majority of their opponents. Only Liverpool have a better goal rate.
City’s defence have shown themselves to be susceptible to individual and collective lapses of judgement at various times this season, but the club’s overall defensive record is very solid. They have conceded less than a goal per match, which contributes to a league best average goal difference per match of 1.77 goals. For comparison, Liverpool’s is 1.52.
Pellegrini will welcome top-scorer Aguero back into the fold after a month or so on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. Yaya Toure picked up a knock in the win over Southampton, but is expected to take part. The match may, however, come a little too soon for Matija Nastasic, who has been out of action of two months with a knee injury.
Liverpool v Man City Preview – Our Betting Tips
City came back from a goal down to win 2-1 when these sides met at the Etihad earlier this season and have held Liverpool to a draw in each of their last three visits to Anfield. There have been three wins for Man City, two for Liverpool and five draws in their last 10 meetings in all competitions.
Liverpool come into this match knowing that if they win it and each of the four remaining league matches that follow then they will be crowned league champions for the first time since 1990. They are in sparkling form and possess, in Suarez and Sturridge, the league’s most potent strike force.
Man City have games in hand to come and know that a draw here will be enough to keep their fate in their own hands in respect of the title race. Pellegrini has, however, made it clear that his side will not play for that result and with Aguero back in action, they certainly have the necessary quality in the final third to cause the home defence problems. We believe a high-scoring draw is the most likely result.
- Bet on the draw @ 27/10 with Bet365 or BetVictor.
- Back over 3.5 goals @ 11/8 with Coral, Stan James or Boylesports.
Bookies Special Offers on Liverpool v Man City
- If either team wins from behind in the Liverpool v Man City match, BetVictor will refund losing Correct Score, First/Last/Anytime Goalscorer, Scorecast & Half-Time/Full-Time bets as a free bet up to £25. Visit BetVictor.
- Coral Bookmaker are offering money back as a free bet on all losing first and last goal-scorer and correct score bets up to £25 if Man City beat Liverpool. Visit Coral.