The Premier League’s two highest scoring teams meet on Boxing Day (17:30 GMT, live on BT Sport) when Manchester City host Liverpool at the Etihad stadium.
City are the league’s form team, with five wins and one draw in their last six matches. They sit third in the table with 35 points from 11 wins, two draws and four defeats and come into this match on the back of four consecutive victories in all competitions.
The most recent of those wins came away to Fulham on Saturday. City were two goals ahead at half time, but Fulham penned them back to 2-2 before goals from Jesus Navas and James Milner ensured that City came away with all three points. It was the fifth time in their last six league matches that Manuel Pellegrini’s (pictured) side had scored three or more goals.
Best Betting Odds to win match
4/5 Man City (Betfred, BetVictor, Coral, Bet365, William Hill)
3/1 Draw (Bet365, BetVictor, Stan James, Ladbrokes)
7/2 Liverpool (Bet365, BetVictor, Betfred, Coral, William Hill, Unibet)
The Citizens are currently the league’s top scorers with an incredible 51 goals in 17 matches. They have a strong mix of attributes in the final third, with plenty of invention (David Silva and Samir Nasri), pace (Navas and Sergio Aguero) and power (Alvaro Negredo). Fernandinho and Yaya Toure offer a further threat from central midfield.
Pellegrini’s side have been less impressive in defence, where injuries and poor form have made it difficult for him to select a consistent unit. With the goalkeeper included, City have employed 14 different back five configurations in their 17 league matches to date. The same back five have been used in consecutive matches on just two occasions.
City’s defence is again likely to be affected by injuries on Thursday, with Micah Richards (hamstring) out of action and Pablo Zabaleta (hamstring) and Matija Nastasic (calf) doubtful. They are also without their outstanding attacking talent, with Aguero out until mid-January with a calf injury, but have adequate squad depth to at least partially cover his absence.
Liverpool have made an excellent start to the season and top the table with 36 points from 11 wins, three wins and three draws. They have won each of their last four league matches, scoring 17 goals in the process, and are comfortably the second highest scoring side in the league, with 42 goals from 17 matches.
The return of Luis Suarez has transformed a solid side who won three of their first five matches of the season 1-0 into an extremely potent attacking outfit who have averaged over three goals per match thereafter. Only Arsenal have kept Liverpool at bay since he returned to the side. Suarez has himself notched 19 goals – a larger total than over half of the league’s clubs.
Brendan Rodgers must be commended for remodelling a side that was often one-paced in his first season in charge into a dynamic, tactically flexible outfit. There have been changes in formation and style to suit different opponents and he was the clear winner of the tactical battle in Liverpool’s last away match, a 5-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
It obviously helps to have a striker of Suarez’s quality in top form, but Rodgers is also getting the best from other members of the squad. Jordan Henderson has been superb over the last few weeks and provided two excellent assists for Suarez in the victory over Cardiff on Saturday, while Joe Allen and Raheem Sterling have both impressed in recent outings.
Rodgers will be without Daniel Sturridge (ankle) and Steven Gerrard (hamstring) for the Boxing Day fixture, with both expected back sometime in January. Jose Enrique (knee) will also miss out, as will long-term absentee Sebastian Coates.
Man City v Liverpool Betting Tips Verdict
These sides met three times last season, with each match ending in a 2-2 draw. The last five meetings at the Etihad have ended with two wins for City, two draws and one victory for Liverpool. There have been six draws and two victories for each side in the last 10 meetings at all venues.
City are the bookmakers’ favourites to win the Premier League title. They have been imperious at home so far this season, hitting four or more goals in victories over top eight sides Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal and winning all eight of their matches at the Etihad. Aguero is a big miss, but they are still a very potent attacking outfit and are sure to cause the Liverpool defence plenty of problems.
Liverpool have been inconsistent on their travels and were comfortably outplayed by Arsenal in a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates in early November. City have the right mixture of speed, physicality and ingenuity to control the flow of the match and although Liverpool will create chances, we feel that City are the most likely winners.
- Back Man City to win @ 4/5 with Betfred, BetVictor, Coral, Bet365, William Hill or SkyBet.
- These two sides lead the Premier League in goals scored and both possess more quality in the final third than in defence. Rodgers did play in a conservative manner in Liverpool’s tight victory over Manchester United earlier in the season, but his side have been more attacking since the return of Suarez and we expect to see a high-scoring match. Back over 3.5 goals @ 5/4 with BetVictor, Coral or William Hill.