It’s unusual to see a huge game in the second round of fixtures in a new season. Momentum from the early run of games can be key to any side’s aspirations for the season ahead, and so in that way each game is important. But that’s just a cliché. Manchester City vs Liverpool is now a huge game. Brendan Rodgers has made it so. Brendan Rodgers has made it the opening slug in a season long title-battle. In the interest of balance, before I go off and keep talking about how great Rodgers is, I asked Manchester City fan Josh several questions about the upcoming game and season, and the two teams who clash tonight. So over to him now:
For starters, can you tell us about the main dangers Manchester City can pose to Liverpool on Monday, and who you think the real danger-men for your side are?
I think the obvious danger is the firepower we have in our side. Our home form was almost impeccable last season and we blitzed teams regularly, with relentless and ruthless attacking play. We have a number of routes to score goals; many ways of scoring, but we are at our very best when David Silva is on song. The Spaniard is a wonderful player with such incredible vision and technique. He is definitely the danger for us, but the lively Stevan Jovetic and rejuvenated Edin Dzeko could pose a threat.
What is the general feeling around the summer transfer business that Manchester City have conducted, do you feel your squad is stronger now than it was last year?
We conducted our business rather quietly, but shrewdly. We didn’t need a massive squad overhaul or anything, but we have recruited well with players who provide quality in positions we were perhaps lacking, namely Sagna and Caballero. Mangala could prove to be the ideal partner for Kompany, while Fernando is a good capture and should add more steel to our midfield. Lampard may be a clever addition too. Overall, our business has been commendable and I would definitely deem our squad to be stronger and more balanced than last season’s.
Having won the corresponding fixture at The Etihad last season, is there a positive vibe from your supporters going into this game?
Of course, City fans are always confident at home, with all the quality we have and our home form. So we are definitely confident we can claim all three points, but Liverpool troubled us greatly last time at the Etihad, so I don’t think many supporters will be overly optimistic.
On Manuel Pellegrini, do you feel that he is the man to lead Manchester City long-term and potentially create a dynasty, based on his success so far?
Pellegrini has been an instant hit with City fans. He has brought a calmness to the scene and his approach to football has gone down like a treat; we’ve been totally entertained. He is definitely the man to lead us to more success, but with his age it remains unclear just how long he will be here for. My personal view is that he will do around five years, before handing the reigns to Patrick Vieira, or even Guardiola. By that time, we should have won a fair amount of trophies, as well as bringing a few players through the youth system, having forked out millions for the new Etihad Campus.
The two sides were obviously involved in an exciting title race last season, and a relatively friendly rivalry has developed between the two sides. Do you see Liverpool and Man City being in the conversation for the title come the end of the season?
I think we’ll both be up there. We are still unbelievably strong and have kept the core of our side together; so hopefully we can keep them fit and reap the rewards. As for Liverpool, clearly Suarez is a big loss but they’ve strengthened in much-needed areas and have added good depth for what is sure to be a longer and tiring season, with Champions League commitments. I think both will be in the top three when May comes around.
We’ll quickly mention him: Mario Balotelli. The striker’s move to Liverpool seems imminent, what are your thoughts as someone who has previously seen him play for your team?
Balotelli is a hero for City fans. We could literally talk about his antics off the pitch all day. On the pitch, he has undoubted talent but never seems to use it to the effect he can. Often he fades out of games and loses his head. At City, he was hit and miss but provided us with some memorable moments, and at Milan he struggled in a wobbly side on a downward spiral. It’s been said before, but Liverpool may be the best place for him. It’s a big risk, but one worth taking for Rodgers and Liverpool.
When looking at the current Liverpool squad, who do you feel poses your side the most threat on Monday?
Raheem Sterling for sure. He has been such a nuisance in the last few fixtures, ever since he made his debut against us in 2012/13. His ability on the ball is great, but what is most impressive is his positional play and movement in behind. Henderson is a crucial asset for Liverpool too, as is Coutinho, so we need to keep them relatively quiet if we are to take three points.
Finally, can we get a score prediction from you?
Admittedly, I’m not the best at predictions but I’ll go for a repeat of last season’s score-line at the Etihad: 2-1 City. Sturridge scoring is inevitable too.
So we look ahead to 8pm, Monday 25th August. It’s time. Nothing is decided on this day, not by a long way, but this game could be crucial to either side gaining momentum. It’s the reigning Champions against last season’s runners up. This game is worth 3 points just like any other, but don’t convince yourself it cannot mean a whole lot more.
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