The toughest test in the Premier League is on Liverpool´s horizon, the league champions Manchester City on away ground. And this fixture has in recent times not been a favourite one for the Reds. Five league games in a row Liverpool has left Manchester without a win. Last time we conquered Man City as visitors was in October 2008 when Dirk Kuyt smashed home the 3-2-winner in the 90th minute.
Both Liverpool and Manchester City struggled to get the three points in the opening game. The Kop gang managed a hardfought 2-1-win versus Southampton while the Etihad bunch beat Newcastle 2-0 after a late killer goal.
And now, as early as in the second match, comes the tussle between the two top teams from last season. The match tonight at Etihad will be a perfect opportunity for Liverpool to show title credentials. A triumph would be smashing, a draw acceptable. A defeat would on the other hand be quite a dent in the selfconfident red machine.
So already a lot is at stake. A Liverpool win would send a message to City and the rest of the Premier League. And the announcement would be: Last season wasn´t a coincidence, we are here again to compete for the biggest prize.
Last season the home team turned a 0-1-deficit into a 2-1-victory. Philippe Coutinhos opener in the 24th minue was cancelled out by Vincent Kompany and before halftime Alvaro Negredo completed the goalscoring. Despite the defeat Liverpool played really well and should have at least managed a draw.
What is to expect this time? One thing is for sure, Liverpool must play a lot better than against Southampton to have a chance. The Citizens is always creating at home and almost never leave their own turf without scoring. So the Reds must be bold, attack, score and in the same time be really tight at the back. Can it be done?
The attacking side of things is not a problem. Liverpool is nowadays always a danger and last season the team only failed to score in three out of 38 games. Quite a feat. And in 18 of 19 away league matches the home team had to surrender to Liverpool goals. Also a fantastic achievement by the Reds.
The worry is the defence. It looked quite good in the last game but now comes a totally different proposition, namely England´s most potent attack. Hopefully Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel and the rest of the backfour has been able to build a good understanding in training during the week. They must be on their best to hold back the probable onslaught.
Could also be another type of match. Liverpool have more than matched Manchester City on their on arena quite often in recent times, even if the results has eluded them. It seems that the light blue team has got a lot of respect for the Reds. The best approach would be to take the game to the home team since their weakest link is the defence and tracking back. The start of the game will be important, if Liverpool can take care of the early proceedings, put Man City on the backfoot then there is a great chance of a favourable result.
It will be an entertaining duel with a lot of attacking football. It´s a pity that Mario Balotelli (I assume he signs for the Reds) isn´t eligible, he would have loved to put one over City.
None of the teams is in top form but on a fairly similar level so it will be an even battle. I predict a 2-2-score. A result we can live with until Tottenham comes along in a week´s time and it´s time to say:
We Go Again.