By Christopher Boulay
Liverpool looks to extend their unbeaten streak to 10 as the club faces arguably its most difficult test yet – a home match against league leaders, Manchester City.
The Reds have not lost in a meaningful competition since the 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Tottenham in mid-September. However, there has been a series of disappointing results during the streak, including draws against Premier League new boys Swansea and Norwich.
It certainly will not get easier going up against City, who have been exceptionally impressive this season. The Citizens have failed to lose in 12 tries this campaign, and have only drawn once – against Fulham in September. Keep in mind, the club lost to Napoli in Champions League in mid-week and will be looking for blood to get back on a positive note.
With Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli scoring seemingly at will as of late, there is little question that the blue side of Manchester is, at the moment, more dangerous than their red counterparts. Aguero and Edin Dzeko are tied for second in scoring, with 10 goals each, while Balotelli is not far behind, with six goals.
If City is to be stopped, it needs to be by the Liverpool defense. Jamie Carragher is back, but didn’t get the start last week in the win against Chelsea. Kenny Dalglish seems to have faith in the central defense pairing of Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger, and for now, that may be the norm.
Steven Gerrard is still out of the lineup due to his ankle injury, so Charlie Adam and Lucas may reprise their roles in the center of the midfield. In addition, Maxi Rodriguez’s spectacular showing may have quieted many doubters, and also given a reminder to the entire Liverpool faithful that he is a viable option on the wing. He could replace Stewart Downing for a second consecutive week.
Up front, Luis Suarez is still searching for the form he is so well-known for at the international level, but his inconsistencies have been helped tremendously by the strong play from some of the lineup’s role players. With Andy Carroll still riding the pine, it could be another start for Craig Bellamy, which would be much deserved after his recent form for the club.
Liverpool will need to keep in mind the counter attack, as well as the overall power of City. This is a club that wrecked Manchester United 6-1 and Tottenham 5-1. If the Reds are unable to keep up a solid charge, it is easy to fall behind significantly to such a powerful side.
Liverpool v Manchester City
When: Sunday, November 27, 1600 BST/ 1100 ET
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Table: Liverpool 6th (22 points), Man City 1st (34 points)
Last Premier League Match: Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool, Man City 3-1 Newcastle
Manchester City Starting 11 v Newcastle: (4-4-2)
DEF:Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy
MF: Milner, De Jong, Nasri, Yaya Toure
FW: Aguero, Balotelli
Bench: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Kolo Toure, Johnson, Barry, Silva, Dzeko
Projected Liverpool Starting 11: (4-4-2)
DEF: Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Jose Enrique
MF: Kuyt, Adam, Lucas, Maxi
FW: Suarez, Bellamy
Subs: Doni, Spearing, Carragher, Kelly, Downing, Henderson, Carroll