Last season’s Premier League top two meet on Monday when title holders Manchester City host Liverpool at the Etihad (20:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).
City pipped Liverpool to the title by two points after winning their final five matches of last season. Following mixed results in pre-season, they began their defence of the title with a fairly comfortable 2-0 victory away to Newcastle last weekend.
Manuel Pellegrini’s (pictured) side were not quite at their free-flowing best but produced a goal of genuine quality to take the lead through David Silva before Sergio Aguero added a late second. With new signing Fernando providing a solid shield in front of the back four, Newcastle were unable to muster a single shot on target throughout the 90 minutes.
Fernando, signed from Porto, was one of four major acquisitions this summer, alongside former Arsenal full-back Bacary Sagna, athletic French defender Eliaquim Mangala and goalkeeper Willy Caballero, who worked with Pellegrini at Malaga. In addition, Frank Lampard is on loan from City’s American affiliates New York City FC until January.
The bookmakers currently have Chelsea as favourites for this year’s title in the Premier League betting, but it is difficult to look beyond City. They have moved decisively to address the few problems that were evident last season and are highly unlikely to get off to such a slow start this time around. In Aguero, Silva and Yaya Toure they have three of the Premier League’s best players.
Pellegrini will definitely be without Alvaro Negredo (foot) and Mangala (lack of match fitness) for this match, but he otherwise looks to have a full squad to pick from.
Liverpool seemed to have the title in their grasp after defeating City 3-2 at Anfield in mid-April, but five dropped points across their final five matches of the campaign saw them overtaken at the death. Fans will hope for a repeat performance, but top four consolidation is probably a more realistic goal for this season.
The Reds began their campaign with a 2-1 win at home to Southampton. They laboured against resolute opponents but emerged victorious thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet also played his part, producing a superb save to deny Southampton a deserved second equaliser in the final minutes of play.
The sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona has funded a fair chunk of Liverpool’s transfer activity this summer. They have so far spent over £100 million on seven new players and are currently in talks to add former City striker Mario Balotelli to their ranks. The outright brilliance of Suarez has been replaced by a better rounded squad.
Liverpool sacrificed defensive solidity in pursuit of goals last season. They scored a league second-high (behind City) 101 goals, but conceded 50 – by far the most of any side in the top five. With more options at his disposal, Rodgers may be tempted to change tack a little this season, particularly after having invested heavily in Saints centre-back Dejan Lovren.
Rodgers will be without Adam Lallana (knee) and Daniel Agger (knee) for the trip to the Etihad, while John Flanagan (knee) and Jose Enrique (knock) are also likely to miss out. Lazar Markovic will be part of the squad after missing the win over Southampton with a minor injury, as will new left-back Alberto Moreno, who could go straight into the side.
Man City vs Liverpool Betting Tips Verdict
Manchester City were 2-1 victors in last season’s equivalent fixture thanks to goals from Negredo and Vincent Kompany. Liverpool won 3-2 in a thrilling match in the reverse fixture. City are undefeated in their last five league matches at home to Liverpool, having won three and drawn two. Liverpool last won at the Etihad back in 2008.
City were very efficient in their opening day victory over Newcastle and will hope to produce a similarly accomplished performance against Liverpool. They have a solid spine and a large variety of attacking options. Having witnessed some of the chances Liverpool gave up to Southampton, they will be confident of scoring at least one or two goals on Monday.
Liverpool’s injury problems are starting to ease and Rodgers will therefore be able to pick something close to his strongest starting XI. His side will seek to impose themselves on the match as they did in both fixtures last season. With Suarez gone, the onus for goals will fall onto the likely forward three of Sterling, Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho.
After an impressive first-week showing, we believe City are the most likely winners in what is sure to be an open and entertaining match.
- Back Manchester City to win @ best odds of 20/23 with BetVictor.
- Last season’s reverse fixture was a five-goal thriller and the sides again displayed their propensity towards high-scoring fixtures in a 2-2 draw in New York during pre-season. Back over 3.5 goals @ 13/8 with William Hill or Ladbrokes.