By Jonathan Pearce
BBC Match of the Day commentator
Barclays Premier League
- Venue: Etihad Stadium
- Date: Tuesday, 3 January
- Kick-off: 1945 GMT
- Coverage: Watch live on Sky Sports 1 and highlights on Match of the Day on Wednesday; listen on BBC Radio 5 live and local radio; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles
Live text and stats
Tuesday, 3 January 2012
|Home Team||Score||Away Team||Time|
- Man City 50%
- Liverpool 50%
Roberto Mancini has had much to ponder over the festive period
City striker Mario Balotelli could return after missing the defeat against Sunderland with a slight ankle problem.
Manager Roberto Mancini has no new injury concerns ahead of City’s second game in three days.
Striker Luis Suarez is expected to return to Liverpool’s starting line-up after a one-match ban.
Captain Steven Gerrard could be in contention to start after two substitute appearances since his comeback from an ankle infection.
As the Christmas lights start to lose their twinkle, is Manchester City’s shining star starting to dim?
They’re wobbling away and now their fortress home faces a stiff examination. City were majestic at Eastlands throughout 2011, claiming 52 points from a possible 54. But Liverpool have the pedigree to become the first side since Fulham picked up a point on 27 February to take anything away from there.
Craig Bellamy could be the key and has a point to prove to Mancini who showed him the door
Kenny Dalglish’s side has lost once in 14 league games and boasts the most improved defence in the top six. An unchanged back five for the last 10 league games has helped galvanise and solidify. They’ve conceded just five goals in this spell.
They also have a good record against City, who’ve beaten them just once in 13 meetings. The return of Steven Gerrard is untimely as well for the no longer invincible league leaders. He’s hit the winner three times against them in recent years.
Sides have learned how to stop Roberto Mancini’s men playing with the fluency of the first three months of the season. When chances have come, they haven’t been put away with the clinical regularity we saw in those sunshine days.
Mario Balotelli remains a Pandora’s Box of a footballer. Edin Dzeko has gone off the boil. The toil of 60 games in 2011 has caught up with one or two of them. They’ve also have two days less than Liverpool to prepare for this.
It will really shake up the whole title race if City lose again. A slight tremor will become a major wobble.
Craig Bellamy could be the key and has a point to prove to Mancini who showed him the door. Andy Carroll can also be a real physical threat for Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott.
City have all the class in the world and shouldn’t be beaten. But what if they are? Nerves will really begin to twang and what a title race we’ll have then!
• Manchester City beat Liverpool 3-0 last season, but that is their only victory in 13 games against the Reds.
• Liverpool have recorded 80 league wins in this fixture, Manchester City 41 victories, with 41 draws.
• City have won all nine of their Premier League fixtures at Eastlands this season, averaging over three goals per match.
• They claimed 52 Premier League points out of a possible 54 on home turf in 2011. The only team to leave City with a point was Fulham, who drew 1-1 on 27 February.
• City have failed to score in their last two league games.
• Gareth Barry is set to make his 450th career Premier League appearance.
• Kenny Dalglish’s side have only lost one of their last 14 league games (away to Fulham).
• The Reds have only conceded two goals in their last six away Premier League matches (scored by Fulham’s Clint Dempsey and Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge).
• They have taken 16 points from their nine games on the road this season – they took only five points from their first nine away matches last term.
• Jose Enrique is Liverpool’s only remaining outfield player, who has been on the field for every minute of their Premier League games this season.