Liverpool, perched at the top of the Premier League after round 17, is heading to the Etihad on Boxing Day to take on the team with the best home record in the League in Manchester City. To say that City has been dominant at home would be an understatement. Such has been their form that they have plundered oppositions remorselessly while pillaging 35 goals and conceding a mere five, three of which were scored by Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal last time around. Tottenham and Arsenal had the best defensive records in the league respectively before they visited City, and they were ripped apart quite easily. It might be another such day for Liverpool who might have been written off already if they did not possess the lethal weapon that Luis Suarez has become.
Suarez, on par to smash the League scoring records if he keeps going at his current rate, should be given the captain’s armband again by Brendan Rodgers for this huge game which would be followed by a visit to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea — another team in the top four. The Uruguayan would no doubt be hoping to continue his fine form by firing his team to what could be their finest victory of the season if they manage to get the better of City.
The game might ultimately be decided by a couple of key factors. Liverpool might not have the collective strength to wear down City’s marvelous squad, but Suarez’s individual brilliance could be enough to make up for this deficit. That being said, the Reds’ back four has been unstable this season and has a tendency to concede sloppily. If Rodgers could keep his defense in focus he might have a fair chance to come away unscathed. City might be missing the influence of Pablo Zabaleta without whom their defense looked a tad shaky against Fulham as Manuel Pellegrini’s blues away from the Etihad looked set to continue after Vincent Kompany’s own goal brought the scores level. But two moments of brilliance ensured a comfortable victory, and the team is slowly beginning to gain strength away from home.
As Liverpool prepares to take on City in undoubtedly the most thrilling contest of the day, the question on everybody’s mind would be if the Reds have what it takes to finally stop City and extend their lead at the top or will they succumb spectacularly like every other team has done at the Etihad this season? No matter what happens, a truly pulsating encounter awaits us all!