The first game of the new Premier League season between two of the top four teams from last year will take place on Monday, as Liverpool travel to face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. It’s far from ideal for either team to play such a strong rival so early, but all things considered, the game will favor Liverpool slightly more than it will City.
Both teams, like the rest of the league, are still in the process of trying to gain full fitness, but Liverpool are certainly the team least affected heading into Monday. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will be without new signing Adam Lallana and potentially fellow recruits Lazar Markovic and Alberto Moreno, but the core of last year’s team will be on the field — minus Luis Suarez, of course.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini, on the other hand, will be missing big summer acquisition Eliaquim Mangala, as well as Alvaro Negrado, Fernandinho and will again most likely be forced to field Gael Clichy out of position at right-back. Star striker Sergio Aguero will also likely be starting from the bench as he is yet to reach sufficient fitness levels.
Aside from player personnel, though, the game itself should really suit Liverpool too. City are very expansive and offensive whenever they play, especially at home, and Liverpool have the perfect team setup to hit the home side on the counter attack. City’s full backs always push high up the pitch, and with Yaya Toure happily bursting forward from midfield, it leaves City vulnerable to the counter attack.
Liverpool possess a dangerous and pacy attack with Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling in particular, but also with technical players like Philippe Coutinho and with Jordan Henderson always a willing runner. Ideally City should be more conservative, but that’s just not the way they seem to approach any game; it’s entertaining for everybody watching, but it’s also dangerous for their prospects of winning the game.
It’s not a result which will be too significant at this stage, but it is certainly a game of importance for both teams moving forward. City, being the home team, will want to take points from a direct rival and try to solidify their position with yet more difficult games to come in the coming weeks. But in Liverpool, they will face a team with all the tools to hit them where they are weakest, and though City are the home team, this is a type of game which will slightly favor Liverpool more than it will the hosts.