City can’t let history keep on repeating – Liverpool v Man City

Manchester City’s Champions League hopes are hanging by a thread following this week’s defeat to Barcelona. In similar fashion, City’s Premier League aspirations were perilously close to petering out last season after the seismic 3-2 loss to Liverpool…and we all know how that turned out!

Suarez bites back - City go 2-0 down to Barcelona. Courtesy@MCFC

Suarez bites back – City go 2-0 down to Barcelona. Courtesy@MCFC

The reviled rodent-like Luis Suarez wreaked havoc at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night, bagging a brace to put Barcelona in the driving seat in the Catalonian’s two-legged Last 16 CL affair with City.

The Uruguayan striker – immensely talented but universally detested – had come back to England to torment the team that had shattered his Premier league dream – a dream that verged on reality on that fateful Sunday afternoon of April 13th, 2014.

Same again Sergio - Aguero celebrates scoring City's 3rd goal in the 3-1 win over Liverpool in August. Courtesy@MCFC

Same again Sergio – Aguero celebrates scoring City’s 3rd goal in the 3-1 win over Liverpool in August. Courtesy@MCFC

Suarez had been instrumental in orchestrating a famous Liverpool win, albeit he shouldn’t have been on the pitch after being more than deserving of a second yellow card for blatant ‘simulation’.

Referee Mark Clattenburg bottled it completely, abdicating responsibility in front of the baying masses of giddy Scousers. Suarez remained on the pitch, Brenda’s bunch bagged the points and Liverpool – Hansen, Dalglish, Ken Dodd, Cilla Black, Jimmy Tabuck, Phil Thompson et al, were convinced they were as good as Champions of England.

Worryingly, ‘Twattenburg’ will once again be officiating at Anfield, when the actual ‘real life’ Champions return to the Land of Make Believe at high noon on Sunday.

Poseur - Clattenburg just loves the limelight even when his performances are less than illuminating.

Poseur – Clattenburg just loves the limelight even when his performances are less than illuminating.

At first glance, the stakes are not as high, but they’re high enough for a City team seeking to retain their title and a Liverpool side desperate to regain the Champions League status relinquished last December.

After a week that has shown that the Premier League, for all its riches, record attendances and global viewing figures is technically adrift from some of it continental counterparts, it’s back to good old blighty and a massive domestic ding dong down the East Lancs Road.

Mismatch? - The Premier League's finest can find the Champions League a real struggle. Courtesy@MCFC

Mismatch? – The Premier League’s finest can find the Champions League a real struggle. Courtesy@MCFC

If City fans are depressed by their played three and lost three record against Barca, they’d be nigh on suicidal if they examine the history books when the blue side of Manchester visit Merseyside’s red terrain.

It’s no wins in 12 visits to Anfield, one in 26 and two in 46…all they way back to 1956.

False dawn - David Silva's goal at Anfield last season was in vain as City lost once again on Merseyside. Courtesy @MCFC

False dawn – David Silva’s goal at Anfield last season was in vain as City lost once again on Merseyside. Courtesy @MCFC

Liverpool away is the sole territory never to have fallen to City in a league game since Sheikh Mansour took control of the club in 2008.

The lessons of history are there to be learned, wisdom gathered and different, more profitable courses chartered. From City’s perspective, it must be hoped that Manuel Pellegrini has taken heed – more so than when venturing into battle against El Barca.

Fortress Anfield is there to be breached. An energy-sapping 120-minute, stuffing in Turkey should have taken its toll on Liverpool, as they tumbled out of the Europa League to Besiktas on Thursday night.

All change - Stevan Jovetic was on fire when he bagged a brace against Pool in August. Will he even make the 18 man squad at Anfield?. Courtesy@MCFC

All change – Stevan Jovetic was on fire when he bagged a brace against Pool in August. Will he even make the 18 man squad at Anfield?. Courtesy@MCFC

If ever City had a pre-match advantage at Anfield it should be now. The return of Yaya Toure helped galvanise City to a stunning 5-0 win over Newcastle United last Saturday.

His suspension-enforced absence from the 2-1 defeat to Barcelona would suggest he should be fresh and raring to go at a ground, where his early injury- induced departure, undoubtedly contributed to Liverpool’s success last season.

Ironically, the return of the Ivorian giant could see James Milner reduced to the ranks of the substitutes bench, as conjecture rages in relation to the England international’s future.

Trophy hoarder - Yaya wants to add another Premier League medal to his collection after winning the African Cup Of Nations with the Ivory Coast last month. Courtesy@MCFC

Trophy hoarder – Yaya wants to add another Premier League medal to his collection after winning the African Cup Of Nations with the Ivory Coast last month. Courtesy@MCFC

A favourite with many City fans, Jimmy seems increasingly likely to succeed Stateside-bound Steven Gerrard and sign for Liverpool in the summer.

If as feared/suspected Milner declines a new deal at the Etihad and leaves on a ‘Bosman’, it’ll compound City’s quandary in relation to home-grown talent.

The Premier League rules require each club to have eight ‘home-grown’ players in a squad of 25. With Frank Lampard finally joining New York City and Milly almost 99% certain to go, who’d rule out City putting in a ‘shock’ bid for one of England’s brightest stars – Raheem Sterling? Sterling has been stalling on a new long term Liverpool contract.

Change of shirt - Will Milner be swapping City blue for the red of Liverpool this summer? Courtesy@MCFC

Change of shirt – Will Milner be swapping City blue for the red of Liverpool this summer? Courtesy@MCFC

If you’re forced to buy British you may as well buy the best, albeit at the ridiculously inflated domestic market prices. A case of watch this space.

Of more pressing urgency is the need for a City win to narrow the gap on Chelsea down to just two points. Yes, Maureen’s mob would have played a game less than City, but as football clichés go, far better to have points in the bag than games in hand.

The return to Anfield will also revive bad memories for City skipper Vincent Kompany, whose miscued attempted clearance acted as an assist for Coutinho to hit Liverpool’s winner.

Take command - Kompany and his defensive colleagues need to tighten up the backline. Courtesy @MCFC

Take command – Kompany and his defensive colleagues need to tighten up the backline. Courtesy @MCFC

Normally Captain Fantasic, Kompany is in the midst of his worst run of form at City and subject to scrutiny like never before.

He suffered a torrid 90 minutes at the hands/feet of Suarez on Tuesday and, for the first time ever, even his place in the team is being questioned by a large section of fans.

Not so his manager.

Calm under pressure - Pellegrini is still confident of domestic and European success. Courtesy@MCFC

Calm under pressure – Pellegrini is still confident of domestic and European success. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini said: “Vincent is an experienced player with a strong character. He must receive the criticism that everyone receives when our team doesn’t have the performance that everyone hopes for.

“Was the criticism fair? Everyone has the right to criticise. Everyone can see the game in a different way. I have my opinion, you have yours. I think he’s a great player.”

Had he not been a football player and manager, Manuel would surely have carved out a great career in the Chilean diplomatic service.

Pellegrini’s ability to stay calm under pressure has never been questioned. He was cool and collected in the aftermath of Clattenburg’s outrageous refereeing last April, and he’s steadied the ship following the Barcelona disappointment.

Commitment & passion - Dzeko was superb against Newcastle a week ago. Courtesy@MCFC

Commitment & passion – Dzeko was superb against Newcastle a week ago. Courtesy@MCFC

His team selection and tactics have been severely criticised and it’ll be fascinating to see what changes, apart from Yaya’s obvious return, are made at Liverpool.

Edin Dzeko played superbly against Newcastle but sadly fluffed one or two of City’s better chances against Barcelona – will he finally make way for Wilfried Bony to make his first start?

Manuel’s much maligned 4-4-2 formation still has merit in the Premier League, far more so than in European games, so a bang in form Sergio Aguero will lead the line.

Sizzling Sergio - Can Aguero end City's winless streak at Anfield? Courtesy@MCFC

Sizzling Sergio – Can Aguero end City’s winless streak at Anfield? Courtesy@MCFC

A hardly fit Aguero was a 68th minute sub in the 3-2 defeat in April, replacing Dzeko, but only after the Bosnian striker had a stone wall first half penalty claim refused by Twattenburg.

So much went against City in the game last season that it can only heighten reasons for optimism this time out. Alternatively there can’t be even a hint of complacency as that could derail the title defence once and for all.

Going for it - Sergio was a late sub at Anfield last time out as City went for the win. Courtesy @MCFC

Going for it – Sergio was a late sub at Anfield last time out as City went for the win. Courtesy @MCFC

They paid the penalty on the day for sheer bad luck and poor officiating.

On the subject of penalties – and with Twattenburg’s past record – it can only be hoped Dejan Lovren takes Liverpool’s two spot kicks that Battenburg is likely to serve on a plate to Pool.

Let's hear it for the boys - Joe returns the appreciation to City's grateful fans. Courtesy@MCFC

Let’s hear it for the boys – Joe returns the appreciation to City’s grateful fans. Courtesy@MCFC

It was his miss that sealed Liverpool’s 5-4 penalty defeat in Turkey, after Brendan Rodgers had withdrawn Mario Balotelli – penalty taker extraordinaire – during the first 90 minutes.

Conversely, Joe Hart’s super save from Lionel Messi’s last minute penalty meant City ended the Barcelona game on a comparative high,with hope in their hearts of what could still be in the Nou Camp on March 18th.

Saviour - Joe Hart stops Messi's last minute penalty. Courtesy@MCFC

Saviour – Joe Hart stops Messi’s last minute penalty. Courtesy@MCFC

A thoughtful Pellegrini reflected: “Parts of the game that decided the Barcelona result were down to a poor performance from me, from the team, from everyone, not just one player. We played for 25 minutes and all the second half without any problem.”

Maybe, just maybe, Manuel has a point, but he and his team need all three on Sunday and must ensure that history does not repeat itself.

#TrustOurMPDomestically!

By David Walker

 

LAST TIME OUT…COMPETITION TIME

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14 Comments

  1. February 28, 2015  12:53 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    In a bit of a rush so 2 short words :-
    "Clean Sheet" !

    • February 28, 2015  1:59 pm by David Walker Reply

      5 words - City score more than Liverpool ;-)

  2. February 28, 2015  1:32 pm by Alan Baxter Reply

    Saw a comment earlier stating "Champions of April V Champions of England.
    No love lost between the two camps. I think we may have to weather an early storm, but ultimately (fingers crossed) I think we will get something out of the game.

    • February 28, 2015  2:00 pm by David Walker Reply

      A MUST NOT LOSE as opposed to a MUST WIN, but we have to win there sometime, so why not now?

  3. February 28, 2015  2:16 pm by Phil Entwistle Reply

    I've been to Anfield 3 times and have to see them lose, I was there that memorable NY Day when Kevin Reeves back heeled past Grobbelaar for a 3-1 win so was surprised by your statistics. We have played well against them previously only as you say for the 'officials' to decide the game with stupid, unexplainable decisions, Phil Dowd amongst them for his penalty award against Micah.
    We have to show them what the Champions of England really means and shut that Rogers up for good.
    Can't now wait for your match report - good work as always.

    • February 28, 2015  2:47 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Phil - maybe we should rush a ticket to you for the match - lucky omen Mr E

  4. February 28, 2015  2:36 pm by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Time for the Blue Boys to stand up and be counted..some way to ease our pain of the BARCA loss..I think we have more than enough to silence the dippers so I have high expectations...Again David you never fail with an excellent read and I had chuckles a plenty.

    • February 28, 2015  2:49 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Eileen - there can be no excuses for losing. It's not underestimating LIverpool, they are still a formidable opponent on their day, but we have to do what champions do and win.

  5. February 28, 2015  6:39 pm by Slippydoda Reply

    I hate that gobby chancer Rodgers with a passion and it looks like thick ex player laughable pundit Carragher needs to be added to the list.

  6. February 28, 2015  7:42 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Great & funny piece Dave you pick us blues up when we are down i thank you for that. I just hope that A. MP gets his tactics right, B. we beat Liverpool. & C. we stop that gobshite St Brendan running his mouth off, i hate that guy with a passion that knows no end.

    • February 28, 2015  11:44 pm by David Walker Reply

      ABC - simple as 123. Yes that would be just what the City fans need, precious points and a big morale booster and, as you say shutting Auntie Brenda's smug gob is always a welcome achievement. He never used to bother me when he was at Swansea, but since going to Anfield he has become a pious, self righteous, sanctimonious shyte...and of course a darling of Sky Sports and the media.

      No one is saying it'll be easy - not for a moment - but if we are to retain the title we cannot blow opportunities such as this. Glad it raised a smile ;-)

  7. March 1, 2015  7:53 am by pete lynch Reply

    My request is simple...3 points...Rodgers diseased ridden trap shut and the so called pundit experts put firmly back in their boxes! Thanks for your usual funny, informative and skilful piece David

    • March 1, 2015  8:08 am by David Walker Reply

      We can't get ahead of ourselves but if we can win today it'll be a massive tick in the box. Psychologically it plays on Chelsea minds that we've cut the gap to two points, albeit they will have a game in hand. This really is a match where City must show what we're made of, a very difficult place to go and win - history tells us that - against a team, opposition fans and, dare I say, a referee who would like to see us lose. We start with 11 against 12 - maybe 14 if Battenburg has briefed his assistants - but we can do it.

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