Melwood Today Preview Panel: Manchester City

In Friday’s Melwood Today, we get the thoughts of the new This Is Anfield Preview Panel ahead of this weekend’s Super Sunday clash with Manchester City. This week, Phil Montgomery, Brian Irvine and Craig Rimmer provide their thoughts on Manchester City; their hopes for team selection; player to watch and their result predictions.

Liverpool vs Manchester City
Sunday, November 27th, 2011

lfc reservesPhil Montgomery: Coming off the back of a massive win against Chelsea, confidence is high, and rightfully so. We should head into this match full of optimism, and that’s the way I want to see us set out, especially considering we’re at home.

A positive approach is essential, and I’d expect nothing less from Dalglish; if we’re going to win, the way to do it is to have some belief and get at them right from the start. It’d be a dangerous game if we tried to keep it tight, because as everyone knows they have the ability to punish you, and we’re not averse to slight lapses in concentration, however brief. Unsettling them early could be the key – all or nothing.

As for the line-up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Carroll given a start, maybe in place of Bellamy. So many people are still on the fence about him – and he still has a lot to prove – but his physicality could add an extra dimension to our attack, and he fared well in this fixture last season. Other than that, unchanged team – having players like Bellamy and Downing to come on off the bench could provide a great boost later on.

lfc reservesOpposition Player to watch: David Silva. You could probably close your eyes and point randomly at their team-sheet and you’d still be picking out a player of immense quality, but this guy’s on a different level. Having watched him for years at Valencia his success has come as no surprise, and despite City’s strength in depth, if we can stop Silva, we may be onto success. But as I mentioned, he’s exactly the type of player that will punish you for even blinking, so it will take some effort to keep him quiet.

lfc reserveslfc reservesKey head to head: Luis Suarez vs Kompany/Lescott/their entire defence. Let’s be honest, this is where the magic happens for us, and we’ll say it again all season, but this is what can make all the difference. It sounds like the easy choice, but time and time again it will hold true: if Suarez is on his game, then that one moment could be enough to unlock their defence. If not, then like at the weekend, we may be relying on a defensive slip-up or an unexpected bit of magic from the supporting cast.

Match Prediction: I see no reason why we can’t get all three points, as optimistic as that sounds. City’s trip to Napoli has proven that they aren’t infallible, and it’s possible that it may have sown a few seeds of doubt in their minds. At the same time, though, they’ll be looking for an instant reaction, which could make them even more dangerous than usual. But if they come to Anfield a little over-eager, we definitely have the potential to punish them for it.


lfc reserves Craig Rimmer: Despite the hugely encouraging victory at Stamford Bridge last weekend, it has been home form which has proved Liverpool’s major short coming thus far this season. The Reds have achieved just two home victories to date. Yet they should go into the game with great confidence following, not only a stand out result, but also an eye-catching performance against Chelsea.

Man City have, of course, been in impeccable form during the opening months of the season. However, logic would dictate that Roberto Mancini’s team will encounter a tough period at some point during the season and their European disappointments may just be the catalyst for that. Of course, on the other hand, it could also have the opposite affect but the hope is that this will prove a good time to play the league leaders.

I would anticipate Kenny Dalglish to be reluctant to change a winning formula. The introduction of Craig Bellamy and, forgotten man, Maxi Rodriguez provided Liverpool with an extra dimension in possession; which was in distinct contrast to the previous home match against Swansea City.

Steven Gerrard is still likely to be unavailable but Dalglish may be tempted to offer Andy Carroll – who was so impressive in the same fixture last season – a return to the starting XI. If he opts to go down this route, one of the aforementioned pair are likely to be sacrificed. But City are blessed with a lot a ariel strength to counter the threat Carroll and I would prefer to see the Reds stick with the line up that performed so impressively against Chelsea.

Opposition Player to Watch: David Silva – Courtesy of their virtually limitless financial strength, City have an unequalled array of talent at their disposal. But the hugely skilled David Silva has often been the difference between them and the rest this season.

lfc reserveslfc reservesKey head to head: David Silva v Lucas Leiva – It is difficult to pin Silva down to a specific dual as such – the Spaniard is usually given a licence to roam and likes to drift between the lines. But, if Liverpool are able to gain the upper hand, limiting the influence of Silva is as good a starting point as any.

Lucas is likely to have a key role in this regard. If the Brazilian is at his reliable, obstinate best, then he can have a big hand in keeping Silva quiet. If Liverpool can achieve this, they can give themselves a decent chance of winning the game.

Match Prediction: 2-1 – I would expect it to be a very tight game but also the sort of game which suits this Liverpool team. If the Reds can take their performance of last weekend into this game then I am backing them to just edge it.


lfc reserves Brian Irvine: With Manchester City suffering a mid-week setback in the Champions League I’m sure they’re determined to get back on track and keep their winning run going in the Premiership which should make this encouter all the tougher. Liverpool should have the wind in their sails though after a moral-boosting win over Chelsea and the added bonus of no midweek game or traveling.

As far as tactics are concerned; we need to be strong down the centre to combat City’s attacking threat in that area of the pitch. As a result getting the ball wide to stretch the oppostion could be our best chance of success, their game relies on that group of forwards staying fairly close to each other, Liverpool will need to distrupt that. The space vacted by City’s ramaging full-backs is also there to be exploited in similar fashion.

That said, we also need to ensure we play our own game and not just try and stiffle City’s threat; a major factor in why other teams have failed to beat them. Liverpool will have to work hard, be patient and take their chances when they arrive, Manchester City are not unbeatable.

Liverpool Line Up: I think we’ll see a similar one to the one at Chelsea but with Carragher maybe coming back in for Skrtel and the possibilty of playing two proper widemen in Maxi and Downing to stretch and exploit the aforementioned space in the wide areas. Manchester City‘s typically high line leaves space behind the defence which could be a source of joy for the pace of Bellamy and Suarez. As the game progresses and they drop deeper the introduction of Andy Carroll as a target man could be more effective than him starting the game.

lfc reservesOpposition Player to watch: Most people are going to say David Silva aren’t they? The diminutive Spaniard has been excellent for Man City recently after a patchy start to his life in English football. His intelligence, skill and vision are rapidlly making him one of their most important players. However, refrain from picking him as my ‘Player to Watch’ and go with Joe Hart. He’s overlooked when it comes to talking about Man City‘s players, he communicates well with his defence, is a decent distributor of the ball and crucially, pulls off excellent save after save. With the recent form of oppostion goalkeepers at Anfield, City’s last line of defence could be the man to watch.

lfc reserveslfc reservesKey head to head: Lucas vs Silva would be the key one for me. Almost everything City do well runs through the wee man. Lucas’ job will no doubt be to stick to him like glue when he enters Liverpool’s half of the pitch. For the most part, stop Silva and you stop Manchester City, but then again City obviously have other players who can inflict damage so it would be with caution that Liverpool focus purely on Silva.

Prediction: It’s going to be a extremely tight game and a though one to predict. A lot will rely on who gets the first goal, one thing Liverpool don’t want to be going is chasing the game as catastrophically displayed when Man Utd went one down at Old Trafford. If Liverpool can get the goal, they can dictate play and close the game out as they please. I’ll put my neck on the line and go for a nervy 1-0 win for Liverpool.

The Melwood Today Preview Panel

Friday Morning’s Premier League News

  • Steven Gerrard is expected to miss Liverpool’s clash with Manchester City on Sunday with Dalglish insisting he will set no return date for the injured captain.
  • Kenny also spoke of his delight at how quickly Sebastian Coates has settled into life on Merseyside and is tipping the Uruguay star to enjoy a long career at Liverpool.
  • Liverpool’s U18s take on Manchester United’s U18s on Friday afternoon, don’t forget to watch the whole game live on LFC TV and LFC TV Online.
  • The Mail Online have reported that Liverpool are weighing up another bid for Crewe striker Max Clayton in January as competition increases for the 17-year-old England youth forward.
  • FA general secretary Alex Horne says goal-line technology could be used in the Premier League as early as the 2012-13 season.

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