Ahead of Monday night’s trip to Eastlands to face Manchester City, Jack Lusby talks to Citizens’ fan Rob Pollard.
Manchester City vs. Liverpool. Etihad Stadium, Monday 25 August, 8pm.
Last season’s top two in the Premier League meet at Eastlands on Monday night.
Every Liverpool fan will have their hopes about the upcoming fixtures, with nerves and predictions abound, but how do the other half feel?
We spoke to Bleacher Report’s Manchester City correspondent Rob Pollard, who gave an insight into the Citizens’ summer and predictions for the coming game and the season ahead.
Hi Rob, are you happy with the way things have gone for City this summer?
Yes, absolutely. We needed to strengthen the squad in certain areas, and we’ve addressed those areas completely. We now have two players for each position who are all capable of playing for the first team.
Other than the very best – Yaya, Kompany, Silva, Aguero – there isn’t a player in our squad who isn’t looking over their shoulder at someone who could take their place in the starting XI, which is a great position for any side to be in.
Which signings are you most impressed by in particular?
Fernando Reges looks brilliant so far. He will tackle anything in sight and has a great engine, so he brings options to our midfield.
He allows us to rotate Fernandinho and Yaya more than last season and we can also go with a three-man midfield in tight away games against the very best.
Willy Caballero’s signing is also a big one. Joe Hart has had no competition for way too long. Caballero will keep him on his toes.
Who do you tip to break through into the City first team this season?
Youngsters? No one this season. The squad is set and our best young players have been loaned out to get proper experience elsewhere.
And will the current crop endure? Samir Nasri, Vincent Kompany, Aleksandar Kolarov, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko have all signed new contracts recently.
Yeah, we’ve tied up our best players for the foreseeable. The club’s director of football, Txiki Begiristain, has made it his mission to improve the club’s ability to sign players efficiently and without fuss, and sign our best current players to long-term deals. He’s doing a magnificent job.
And in case Rodgers is reading – City lined up with Dzeko and Jovetic up front against Newcastle, do you see this continuing on Monday or will Aguero come back into the side after scoring on Sunday?
Hard to say. We’ll know more on Friday after the manager’s press conference. Aguero looked sharp when he came on, so I think it’s likely he’ll start alongside Dzeko, but there may be a part of Pellegrini that doesn’t want to take a risk with a player so important to us and who has had injury struggles recently.
Rodgers has signed eight players so far this summer, who are you most impressed with and why?
You needed Dejan Lovren, that’s for sure. I’d say Adam Lallana overall, although he was very pricey.
And are there any young players coming through at Liverpool you’d like to see in sky blue in the future?
I genuinely believe Sterling is one of the finest young players in Europe. Obviously, there’s no chance Liverpool would let him go, but he’s actually underrated, if anything. The progress he’s made over the last 18 months has been staggering.
Who do you see as Liverpool’s main threat overall?
Daniel Sturridge. Great movement, can finish and is quick. He’s so hard to mark because he’ll drift into so many different areas. He’s turning into a top player. And Sterling, of course, who is just brilliant.
Who will score more – Sturridge or Aguero?
If Aguero says fit and plays the majority of games (unlike last season), then he will. He’s 30 goals a season guaranteed when fit.
How about your predictions for Monday night and the title race in general?
2-1 City and the title race will be between City and Chelsea.
And the bonus ball: With Liverpool close to signing Mario Balotelli this summer, what are your thoughts on the forward from experience?
Mario Balotelli has the natural ability needed to be one of the best players in the world. He’s big, powerful, fast and unbelievably skillful.
I’ve always said that a team is going to get him at the right time in his career, with the right manager to get the best out of him, and they’re going to have a world-class player on their hands.
£16m is a bargain, in my opinion.
We're talking about a player with the kind of natural ability needed to be one of the best strikers in the world.
— Rob (@RobPollard_) August 21, 2014
Basically, on Mario, someone was always going to get him at the right stage of his career and get a brilliant player. Might be Liverpool now
— Rob (@RobPollard_) August 21, 2014
Rob Pollard writes regularly on Manchester City for Bleacher Report and is editor of City fan site Typical City. Take a look at Rob’s B/R profile here, and for a closer look at the opposition, visit typicalcity.org.
What are you predictions for Liverpool’s visit to the Etihad on Monday night? Let us know in the comments below.