In what is probably the biggest fixture of Boxing Day, Manchester City welcome high flying Liverpool to the Etihad stadium.
Both teams have been flying recently with huge wins over their rivals in the league. After defeating Tottenham 6-0 at home, City followed this up with a 6-3 win against Arsenal a few weeks later at home as well. Liverpool have also enjoyed big results, most notably their 5-0 victory over Spurs at White Hart Lane last week which resulted in the sacking of Andre Villas Boas.
If both sides play the way they have the last few weeks, then it could be a very exciting game for the fans and neutrals alike.
Manchester City have several of their leading players out injured. Of course, this isn’t such a big problem for Manuel Pellegrini when you look at who can come in and cover for them. Stevan Jovetic is injured but may feature on Boxing Day. Matija Nastasic is also looking at a potential return for this game but we will have to wait for the manager’s pre-match press conference to find out for sure. Pablo Zabaleta, Sergio Aguero and Micah Richards are all out for the foreseeable future.
Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge are still out for the visitors, although Brendan Rodgers may not be so worried if his team can maintain the level of performance they have had recently. Jose Enrique is still out long term. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rodgers sticks with the same team he fielded against Cardiff at the weekend.
- Manchester City have won all eight of their home games so far this season.
- City have also scored the most goals in the league with 51.
- The last time the two sides met in the league at the Etihad, the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
- Liverpool are the second highest scorers in the league with 42.
- Luis Suarez is leading the goal scoring charts with 19 goals in just 12 games. This makes him the top scorer in Europe’s top five leagues.
Toure has been in great form for City so far this season again. The midfielder scored a great free kick against Fulham at the weekend, bringing his goal tally for the season up to nine. Toure has also had a big creative impact on the City team. He has created 18 chances for his team mates from open play and has three assists to his name. When you take this all into account, he is creating a chance every 72 minutes. He has also created six clear-cut chances.
When it comes to passing ability, Toure is extremely accurate. He has a 91% accuracy when passing in open play and 29% of these have went forward. He has completed 87% of his attempted passes in the attacking zone and when you specifically look at his passing in the final third, he has completed 79% of 349. If Liverpool are to counter City’s attacking threat at all, then it is essential they stop Yaya Toure.
I imagine most of Liverpool’s previews this season will have Suarez as their key man and rightly so. He has scored 19 goals from just 12 games, meaning he is scoring a goal every 57 minutes in the Premier League so far. He has a 63% shooting accuracy with 40 of his 64 shots finding the target. He has only converted 30% of his chances and 50% of his clear-cut chances, however this only serves as a reminder of how many chances are created for Suarez either by himself or his team mates. Of course, the striker isn’t a selfish player and has been a creator as well as Liverpool’s end product. He has so far created 33 chances overall, 28 of which have been from open play.
When you add the five assists he has, this means he is creating a chance every 28 minutes. He has also created a further eight clear-cut chances for his team-mates as well. He alone may not be enough to prevent a City victory but his potential goals could make it very difficult for the home side.
I think this game will be a high scoring one, however I don’t think we’ll see City scoring six goals again. After their game against Arsenal a few weeks ago, I think Pellegrini will make sure his side play with more focus on defence. Not that they are scared of the Reds, but to counter the threat of Suarez and also to make sure they don’t concede three goals. That being said, I can’t see Liverpool breaking City’s home record as they are just too good at the Etihad. I think it will finish 3-2 to Manchester City.