Liverpool take on Manchester City just three days after losing to them in the final of the Capital One Cup. The Reds were trailing before Philippe Coutinho’s strike in the last minutes of the game gave them respite. Liverpool managed to take the game to penalties but a series of shocking takes and some wonderful goalkeeping from Willy Caballero ensured Pellegrini has at least one trophy in his final season as boss.
Jurgen Klopp’s men must quickly recuperate after the taxing final and try to avenge the final defeat that must be hurting them. Manchester City are the ones travelling and Pellegrini might use his squad players for the tie. Hence, Liverpool must capitalize on the opportunity at home and try to get all the three points, doing which will take them above Southampton and place them in the seventh place.
For Manchester City, a win is equally important. Despite trailing table toppers Leicester by nine points, the Citizens wouldn’t have given up hopes of the title. After all, their recent league wins have come in stuttering fashion which despite showing negatives, illustrates that the side refuses to give up till the last minute. A win would close the gap to six points with the Foxes and taken them in third place as they will replace Arsenal courtesy of a superior goal-difference. A loss would greatly benefit Leicester and Tottenham’s chances.
Mamadou Sakho was angry when Jurgen Klopp took him off the pitch in the first half due to a head injury, which shows that he should be fit to feature in the game. Daniel Sturridge has been out on the sidelines for too long in the last one and a half years but has managed to make four consecutive starts, in the span of just 14 days for the Reds recently. However, he was badly struggling at the end of 120 minutes which might have been too many for him. It is unlikely that the player will feature against his former team and summer signing Christian Benteke, signed for a ridiculous amount of money and still left on the bench in the final, might get a chance to lead the line.
Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel trained before the final despite not being fit to feature on the bench, but the duo might make the cut for the Premier League game.
Manuel Pellegrini might field his squad players with the Premier League game so soon after the final. There were no injury issues during the game so the Chilean boss has a lesser headache. Joe Hart made his return to the bench in the final and would in all probability start the game against Liverpool even though Caballero couldn’t have made a stronger case for more game time.
The Liverpool number 10 has proved to be a thorn in City’s side time and again and the final was also no different. The Brazilian would have surely wanted for his equalizer to mean more and win his first trophy with Liverpool. Sadly, that couldn’t happen. Coutinho would be more fired up for the weekday fixture and against a likely weaker team, may as well be able to do more damage. The Reds’ aim has to be to finish as high up in the table as possible and Coutinho will have to play a major part in it, starting against City.
Kompany’s contribution and importance to the City defence just cannot be understated. The Belgian’s leadership and organizational skills at the back are as important as his own defensive attributes. Not to mention City are able to stay much more compact with him at the back. Kompany out of all players would know that a win in the cup shouldn’t make the players complacent and would surely be out to lead his team to a second win against the same opponents in the matter of days.
Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2
The difference in quality between the two sides was visible on Sunday even though Liverpool did give Manchester City a great fight towards the end. Surely Pellegrini’s men wouldn’t get complacent after their win and take this match lightly. There is still plenty of time left for the league to get over and enough twists and turns left. Expect Manchester City to at least leave with a point from Anfield, if not more.