The biggest game for this season sees my Manchester City going to Anfield. A stadium we never won in and a place our all-time goal scorer, Sergio Aguero has never managed to score so far in his career.
The game has grown in stature with the rise of Liverpool as a powerhouse once again in English football. Over the last 2 seasons these teams have been England’s best teams, the squad depth, style of play and credentials of the men who lead them from the touchline says it all. The records and trophies speak for themselves. Manchester City won 4 domestic cups; Liverpool won two European ones. So, this weekend will be special and a nerve wrecking affair if the hype is to be believed.
Shots have been fired as early as Saturday, Guardiola making the claim Liverpool players fall easy like new-born zebras in the plains of the Manapools game reserve. Which leads to the 3 things that shall decide the game from Manchester City’s point of view.
When facing Liverpool in the Guardiola era, as City fans we have felt a bias on some referee calls. Think back to the Champions league second leg, the Sane goal/no goal. Liverpool has been getting results, perfect ones and the draw at United but there’s been a consistent theme of dubious penalties awarded to them. There’s also been what I see as fouls committed in the name of pressing that the officials don’t call out simply because it is Liverpool. Can I name a game such fouling has happened, yes, Mo Salah ‘s recovery of possession in my book is dodgy? Yes, I’m hater. So, when we come up against Liverpool my hope is Pep Guardiola drills this message into the defence of the day, Salah will turn, don’t block him, Mane will hustle you, don’t open a foot, he’ll trip over it. Hands away from the ball. Don’t fall into the trap for there’s always a “call” waiting to favour Liverpool.
Wait, don’t Manchester City also benefit from the would-be calls? What if on the day we get one lucky one like how Kompany avoided a red in the reverse fixture last season after tackling Salah recklessly? Numbers. The feeling is Liverpool get them way too many. Especially on their turf. The luck, the favour is significantly higher for them. How many pens do they get really?
Moving along. The players. The Manchester city 11 on the day. If Manchester city were a marvel character, we are Ironman. Rich, cocky, but not the best Avenger, we can take a humbling defeat, our arrogance leaves us to be vulnerable. Talent is plenty no doubt. What then is our fear is will John stones not do a Monaco? Will Aguero wear the same boots he’s worn every time we go to Anfield that has him leaving there with a duck, Raheem Sterling. Will the boo boys boo him to the bone, what of players from the bench? Will Gabriel Jesus, a young Foden and the Mahrez brigade turn up when needed. For the result we desire it is my opinion Pep doesn’t play his annual “you didn’t see this coming ” game with the line-up. Our best should start obviously but there’s a catch. The best should start in their respective positions. Centre-backs at centre-back, left wingers on the left side of midfield.[Side note] -: The sit back and keep things tight approach he took last season worked but that’s not the Manchester City way. I like how we beat down teams, it would be even sweeter to go stick it to the lot at the Kop End when we got Liverpool pinned in. With a favourable score line, I hope.
Thirdly, did you see how England stood up the all Blacks haka? Nice, it worked. When we visit Anfield. Our performances have been poor because of how we fail to steady ourselves in hostile environments. The whistles when we have the ball, the jeers from the stands when one of ours misses, the chants, the booing and that silly song thingy. Some will say, maybe you just weren’t good enough, a stadium changes nothing, it’s the same length of the pitch. Hear me out on this. It is only at Anfield that Manchester city concede the earliest goals. Something is not right. We may have to take a different mindset there. Not be bothered by the fans, Ironman must silence the home crowd. Settle thy nerves, don’t give anything cheaply. We got it.
In conclusion. There are four possible results we can get.
1. A defeat will be terrible, that Klopp grin is annoying. We are the champions; I can’t see them losing to anyone else but us. Which means +9 points gap. That’s now putting Liverpool in some comfort to win the title. No, no we no lose.
2. A draw. Depends on what type of draw you get. I don’t want a phew we got lucky to draw. I want a that ref gave them a draw type; we had won but they got lucky.
3. A win at Anfield, we reduce the gap to three, we slay them for their first L as last time. A win will entail that point 1, Liverpool weren’t favoured by the officials. Mr Oliver will have had a good game. Two of our players turned up like how ironman should in his suit, kicks the bad guys and saves the day and three, we didn’t hear the walk alone song or that this means more Klopp army intimidatory jingles. We got there and did the job.
4. A fourth possibility would be the game getting cancelled.