Low depression forecast as sky blue storm sweeps in from the east – LIVERPOOL v MAN CITY

Fuelled by the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy and euphoric ‘champions-elect’ expectations, Liverpool are riding a tidal wave of emotion…but they’re heading straight into a sky blue storm.

The short range forecast for Merseyside has become clouded by the giddy highs of recent weeks and an unexpected depression is about to hit, and hit hard, mid-afternoon on Sunday.

Manuel's Met Office - Pellegrini is hoping for a shower of City goals

Manuel’s Met Office – Pellegrini is hoping for a shower of City goals

Very few are predicting it, but a massive low is anticipated to sweep in along the East Lancs Road and hover over the Anfield area, whilst leaving bright blue horizons in a sunny and glowing Manchester.

Both Brendan Rodgers and Manuel Pellegrini are diplomatically agreeing that this – despite the high stakes – is not a winner takes all shootout. Undeniably, the victor will gain a huge advantage but, in a season where we have come to expect the unexpected, there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip.

It’s a fascinating scenario with both teams holding their destiny in their own hands. It’s not dissimilar to when City played another red foe – United – back in April 2012, when a 1-0 win at the Etihad, with just two games to go, made it advantage City.

Thumbs up - it was all smiles when City beat title rivals Liverpool 2-1 on Boxing Day Night. Courtesy @MCFC

Thumbs up – it was all smiles when City beat title rivals Liverpool 2-1 on Boxing Day Night. Courtesy @MCFC

Whether it’s Liverpool or City who are favourites on this occasion is highly subjective. If the hosts succeed in making it 10 PL wins on the bounce they will open up a yawning seven point gap over City.

Pellegrini’s men would still have two vital games in hand but would be powerless to quell the Mersey surge, if Liverpool claimed maximum points from their remaining four games.

Conversely, if City can make it six PL games unbeaten against ‘Pool, stretch their impressive away form to 11 undefeated and limit the losses to just one in their last 21 league games, the momentum swings massively over to Manchester.

Either way, it’s the stuff of nightmares for Manchester United and the sweetest of ironies that the team Fergie always declared provided Manure with their biggest matches of the season, are now locked in title combat with the once inconsequential or, at best, ‘noisy’ neighbours.

'Nited Nightmare - The prospect of City or Liverpool winning the PL title is a terrifying reality at the Theatre of Screams. Courtesy @MCFC

‘Nited Nightmare – The prospect of City or Liverpool winning the PL title is a terrifying reality at the Theatre of Screams. Courtesy @MCFC

With Premier League supremo Richard Scudamore, lamenting United’s accelerated decline and the supposed damage to the PL ‘brand’, a restoration of one of the ‘old guard’ to the status of champions would be the next best thing.

From a commercial perspective, a Liverpool title win, in such an emotionally-charged and truly competitive season, would be manna from heaven for the PL money men.

But how best to help achieve such a cash rich outcome? Taking the task to heart, the Premier League’s Department of Creativity came up with the selection of Mark Clattenburg to officiate at Anfield.

Such is the paucity of decent calibre Premier League referees that City fans taunt inept officials with a chant of  ‘You’re worse than Clattenburg, you’re worse than Clattenburg…’

Toughest test - Liverpool have been City's most difficult opponents this season despite the Sky Blues 2-1 win on Boxing Day Night. Courtesy @MCFC

Toughest test – Liverpool have been City’s most difficult opponents this season despite the Sky Blues 2-1 win on Boxing Day Night. Courtesy @MCFC

Compared with the likes of Andre Marriner, Lee Mason, Mike Jones, Phil Dowd, Martin Atkinson, Lee Probert, Anthony Taylor, Chris Foy, Jon Moss, Michael Oliver, Kevin Friend, Neil Swarbrick and dear old Howard ‘The Red’ Webb, Clattenburg probably gets a raw deal from City fans – but that’s being damned with very faint praise.

Some will be quick to point out that Clattenburg was in charge when City spread bird flu at Old Trafford, inflicting the famous ‘Sick-Swan’ defeat on Fergie in October 2011.

Whatever the outcome of this mouth-watering affair, it must be hoped that the result is determined on football merit and not a dodgy penalty, a blatant offside or a dubious sending off, for either side.

Equally, is it really asking too much that Liverpool centre back Martin Skrtel’s weekly contribution to ‘Wrestlemania’ at every corner or set play could be curtailed by Clattenburg?

Beast of a winner - Alvaro Negredo scored in City's 2-1 victory over Liverpool at the Etihad.  Courtesy @MCFC

Beast of a winner – Alvaro Negredo scored in City’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool at the Etihad. Courtesy @MCFC

This is a coming together of the goal machines of the English top flight – Liverpool have netted 90 so far, with City just six behind, having played two games less. Attack is the preferred form of defence for both sides and this promises to be a high octane affair. It’d be a brave man who bet big on a 0-0 draw.

Any form of stalemate would suit City who have drawn on their last three trips to Anfield – twice in the PL and once, when they needed to win, in a League Cup semi-final 2nd leg.

Manuel Pellegrini has already stated that City cannot, and will not, set out to draw. It goes against his football philosophy and it also goes against common sense inviting the likes of Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling to rampage at a City defence, not without its shortcomings.

Gnawing presence - Kompany & Co will need to be on form to keep Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling at bay.Courtsey @MCFC

Gnawing presence – Kompany & Co will need to be on form to keep Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling at bay.Courtsey @MCFC

City have conceded 29 goals this campaign but Liverpool are far from watertight at the back with 40 in the goals against column.

Rodgers must decide whether to recall fit again Daniel Agger or stick with Mamadou Sakho, whereas Pellegrini needs to assess if Sergio Aguero is restored to the City attack from the kick-off or the sub’s bench.

Clearly not match fit after missing City’s last five games – four wins and a draw, in which they’ve scored 15 goals – Aguero brings a new dynamic to the team.

Welcome return - Some Sergio goal celebrations would be most joyously received at Anfield. Courtesy @MCFC

Welcome return – Some Sergio goal celebrations would be most joyously received at Anfield. Courtesy @MCFC

His Argentine team mate Pablo Zabaleta has compared Aguero’s availability and potential impact to that of Carlos Tevez’s when, after his infamous spat with Mancini in Munich, he helped fire City to the PL crown in the last six matches.

If, in the final analysis it came down to goal difference to decide the title it could be a tight call. City presently have a five goal buffer and the extra 180 minutes to play in re-scheduled games against Sunderland and Aston Villa.

They could count for nothing if a Steven Gerrard inspired Pool make it 11 PL wins out of 17 over City at home. You have to go back to a Nicolas Anelka brace in May, 2003 for City’s solitary PL win on the red half of Merseyside.

Back to front - Kompany is vital in defence and Negredo needs to get back in the goals  Courtesy @MCFC

Back to front – Kompany is vital in defence and Negredo needs to get back in the goals Courtesy @MCFC

Prior to that and it’s way back to Boxing Day 1981 when John Bond presided over an unlikely 3-1 win over the likes of Dalglish, Hansen, Rush and Souness, with goals from Asa Hartford, Kevin Bond and Kevin Reeves.

If Liverpool are energised in their usual fashion they will play at a fast tempo and press City in the midfield. It will need Yaya Toure, David Silva and Fernandinho to be at their best to counter and have the Reds rocking back on their heels.

It’ll be interesting to see if Pellegrini opts for the flair of Samir Nasri over the work rate of James Milner in that midfield battle.

Selection headache - James Milner could be a key component for City at Anfield. Courtesy @MCFC

Selection headache – James Milner could be a key component for City at Anfield. Courtesy @MCFC

Milner provides stronger defensive cover than the Frenchman but City’s boss could play both if he goes for a 4-5-1 formation with a lone striker, be that Aguero, Negredo or Dzeko.

On a day when red and sky blue supporters will unite in paying their respects to the 96 victims of Hillsborough, it’s difficult not to draw parallels when City played United six years ago on the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster.

The 3,000 travelling supporters earned the tag of ‘The Impeccables’ as they observed the minute-long silence to remember those who perished.

The Impeccables - City's travelling fans will honour the memory of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough Tragedy at Anfield.

The Impeccables – City’s travelling fans will honour the memory of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough Tragedy at Anfield.

Similarly, Sunday April 13, 2014, will be a day when supporters, irrespective of tribal colours and club allegiances, come together to honour the memory of those who, like themselves simply went to watch a game of football…only never to return.

Football pales into insignificance when set against the loss of human life – that’s as true today as it was back in 1989, and will forever be so.

Emotionally charged - Anfield will be a sea of emotions when Liverpool honours the 25th Anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster

Emotionally charged – Anfield will be a sea of emotions when Liverpool honours the 25th Anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster

It doesn’t however, diminish the importance of a game that will go a long way in determining the identity of the next champions of England.

City need to distinguish themselves on the terraces, but disengage from the raw sensitivities of the day on the pitch, in the same manner as they did in beating United 2-1 back on February 10, 2008.

If Vincent Kompany and Manuel Pellegrini can emulate the achievements of their predecessors, Richard Dunne and Sven Goran Eriksson, it will be a priceless three-point haul, mission accomplished and a second Premier League title well on the way back to the Etihad.

 

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@djwskyblu

  

On this the 25th anniversary of the harrowing events at Hillsborough, it behoves Read But Never Red to pay its respects and extend sympathy and empathy to the families and friends of the 96 victims.

It must be hoped that after a quarter-of-a-century of intolerable pain and suffering, justice is finally delivered for those left behind, and that those who presided over the harrowing events and subsequent shameful cover up, are finally held accountable.

30 Comments

  1. April 12, 2014  9:16 am by Guvnor Reply

    I knew the ref would get a mention Mr Walker, you never know he might have a good game? I await the onslaught on him in Sundays texts. x

    • April 12, 2014  10:17 am by David Walker Reply

      I would like to write a report where the referee is the Invisible Man. That would mean he would have done his job properly and officiated to a high standard. It's a damning indictment that I could just name all of those referees without a moment's hesitation. I purposefully left Mike Dean out of it because he is normally pretty good, albeit he didn't cover himself in glory at The Emirates.

  2. April 12, 2014  9:25 am by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Nervous wreck already ha hope our Boys In Blue stay focused it's going to be a tough task ahead and they will need nerves of steel.Hopefully fingers legs everything crossed we will steal the show.

    • April 12, 2014  10:18 am by David Walker Reply

      We're hardly going to win with all of our legs crossed are we? Thanks for reading and commenting Eileen.

  3. April 12, 2014  10:31 am by Nick Reply

    A good read. As a Liverpool fan it is nice to see something from a City perspective, especially one that hightlights the rivalry and obvious desire to win but refrains from the hatred and bile that we have become used to from your not so noisy neighbours. Whatever the outcome at least we can share a mutual enjoyment at their decline.

  4. April 12, 2014  10:43 am by Graham Ward Reply

    As it stands right now, I'd be happy with a point. Three would be ideal, and a thought lurks at the back of my mind that, if we do win, most would then write off Liverpool. We know that's a dangerous thing to do.
    Clattenburg had a reasonable game in the United-Liverpool fixture recently, apart from being conned by Sturridge for the third, missed, penalty.
    I just wish people in high places would keep their thoughts to themselves at times, to save those of us with paranoia from getting carried away like the expectant Scousers!

    • April 12, 2014  12:03 pm by David Walker Reply

      Absolutely - just because we're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get us. Pragmatically a point would be good. Utopia is the win and grave concerns come with the unthinkable!

  5. April 12, 2014  10:46 am by carol main Reply

    tomorrow Davy I shall be watching from behind next doors sofa!

    • April 12, 2014  12:04 pm by David Walker Reply

      Have you told them yet? I don't want to be posting bail because of your breaking and entering Blondie!

  6. April 12, 2014  10:54 am by Mark Reply

    Great read again David. I'd be tempted to play Garcia along side Ferna and push YaYa forward with Milner and silva. Must be a difficult choice for Mr P on who takes the strikers role, personally I'd carry on with Edin and introduce Aguero if needed.

    CTWD

  7. April 12, 2014  10:57 am by Pete Lynch Reply

    One of your best. A smart, intelligent piece which sets the game up perfectly. Lets hope the winners are football (and players in blue!)

    • April 12, 2014  12:05 pm by David Walker Reply

      Smart? Intelligent? You're getting me confused with someone else Pete. Thanks as ever.

  8. April 12, 2014  11:11 am by Gary Derbyshire Reply

    If you listened to all the different media outlets I don't think city should bother turning up tomorrow as the title is already on its way to Liverpool. Scouse Sports News and TalkScouse in particular. Every pundit seems to have an affinity with the Merseysiders and it's as if it's a one horse race and they only have to turn up! When I think too hard about the game I tend to think of the damage they could potentially do to us and I seem to veer away from the fact that WE'RE the better team and they should be more worried about us! I think if we are on our game we will come away with at least a point and it will be a job well done. Truth is, the pressure is on Liverpool to win, not us, so let's see how they cope. #TrustOurMP

    • April 12, 2014  12:05 pm by David Walker Reply

      All the media hype has made Liverpool expectant winners. We'll see!

  9. April 12, 2014  11:19 am by DOUG HENSHAW Reply

    Top blog as always Dave. Hope we can do it tomorrow i shall be watching from behind my cushion with fingers chewed down to the bone. A draw would do me but a win would be so much better even if it ruins the media headlines. That's what is really annoying me all this Liverpool love in i have a lot of time for Liverpool & there fans but this is to much" Rodgers were going to unleash the fans" how pathetic is that. Nice touch David about Hillsborough & i hope the family's get the justice they want.

    • April 12, 2014  12:08 pm by David Walker Reply

      Just looking at the Hillsborough images for this article stirs the emotions. Tragedy and avoidable are two words that don't sit easily together but sum up the disaster. I can't even dare to imagine the terror and panic those poor people must have endured - so so sad.

  10. April 12, 2014  11:50 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    Good article David. Like you I hope the game is not won or lost by a dodgy offside, penalty or a silly simulation in the penalty area but by merit. Can forsee an exiting end to end match and with a bench that should include maybe Aguero, Negredo and Jovetic it is hard to imagine City won't score. Will be good if MP "Unleashes the Beast" on 75 minutes and he scored the winner on 94 minutes.
    Forgetting the media hype about it being a title deciding game and the ever increasing pro Liverpool punditry there will be a few more twists and turns this season. This game just gives the winner an advantage.
    Hopefully we will be driving eastwards on the M62 with big smiles later tomorrow afternoon !

  11. April 12, 2014  12:08 pm by |John Evans TT Reply

    Clearly you've given this one some thought David.

    You can tell it's almost Easter from the amount of bunny coming out of Anfield. Mark Twain's great one liner “There are two types of speakers in the world; the nervous and the liars” could have been written for this occasion.

    Despite the hyperbole, I expect a game more provocative than emotive. Clattenburg needs to be on his game because Rodgers will have instructed his players to 'smarten up' City early doors, with Merlin the principal target.

    Anfield will be a cauldron, but I don't expect Rogers to abuse PM like the loathsome Pardew at St James. There we kept our cool and snaffled three points It was a terrific display not helped by the ineffectual Mike Jones or Sami leaving on a stretcher. The same attitude will get us a result on Sunday. Although I can't see us starting with two strikers as we did that day.

    Whilst this will be a NICE game for Pellegrini to win, for Rogers it's a MUST win game. Any less will effectively end Liverpool's challenge.

    I know whose shoes I would rather be wearing tomorrow, and they aren't Brenda's!

  12. April 12, 2014  12:11 pm by John Evans TT Reply

    Sorry typed in wrong name!

    Clearly you've given this one some thought David.

    You can tell it's almost Easter from the amount of bunny coming out of Anfield. Mark Twain's great one liner “There are two types of speakers in the world; the nervous and the liars” could have been written for this occasion.

    Despite the hyperbole, I expect a game more provocative than emotive. Clattenburg needs to be on his game because Rodgers will have instructed his players to 'smarten up' City early doors, with Merlin the principal target.

    Anfield will be a cauldron, but I don't expect Rogers to abuse PM like the loathsome Pardew at St James. There we kept our cool and snaffled three points It was a terrific display not helped by the ineffectual Mike Jones or Sami leaving on a stretcher. The same attitude will get us a result on Sunday. Although I can't see us starting with two strikers as we did that day.

    Whilst this will be a NICE game for Pellegrini to win, for Rogers it's a MUST win game. Any less will effectively end Liverpool's challenge.

    I know whose shoes I would rather be wearing tomorrow, and they aren't Brenda's!

    • April 12, 2014  12:33 pm by David Walker Reply

      Brenda's brogues would give you bunions. #TrustOurMP - the UK media would have us believe Rodgers' Reds are Bayern & Real Madrid morphed into one. Time will tell. Thanks for feedback.

  13. April 12, 2014  4:34 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    Such a tough one to call so you would have to go with a draw , Although its not quite a title decider I have to confess that if we do lose this one I can't see us winning it , and in all honesty after already gifting 6 pts to Chelsea we wouldn't reakly deserve to be Champions, that's why I can't see us losing this one, if we play the way we have in the last two games ( that's the first half at Arsenal and the second last week ) then we should come away from this game intact .
    You are right to mention the ref for this one & I just hope he doesn't try to light up the game with his false tan & pontificating manor & just let the two best teams in the EPL slog it out. No dodgy pens or sending offs - just top class refereeing that means he goes unnoticed .. Is that too much for any fan to ask ? ...
    City win or draw & we are in the box seat with 6 to go .. Unlike last time.

    • April 12, 2014  6:21 pm by David Walker Reply

      And we all know how last time turned out ;-)

  14. April 12, 2014  9:26 pm by Susan Richardson Reply

    Thanks scribe set us up for tomorrow. If we play our attacking vibrant game we will win. No sitting back. Lessons from Barca and Bayern should mean this won't happen. #trustourMP

    • April 12, 2014  9:29 pm by David Walker Reply

      Let's hope our trust is rewarded!

  15. April 13, 2014  12:28 am by James HouseOlogy Reply

    I think being underdogs will help us , it's whether Pool can take the pressure

    • April 13, 2014  3:15 am by David Walker Reply

      We can but hope that Stevie Geeeeee (how nauseating) & Co are out of their depth & that we enjoy our lunchtime dip in the 'Pool. We don't want to catch a chill on the way out!

  16. April 13, 2014  6:47 am by Mole Rocks Reply

    A very exciting game in store today, made all the more interesting by the media's overwhelming desire for Liverpool to be victorious.

    As ever, I expect City fans will be impeccable, in spite of any misgivings being waved in our direction.

    City have been in this position before, so let's enjoy the game and trust them to deliver.

    Come on City!

    • April 13, 2014  8:53 am by David Walker Reply

      I'd take a 0-0 damp squib - alternatively City 5-1 ;-)

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