Liverpool vs Manchester City | Wednesday 2 March | Anfield | 22:00
Sunday’s Capital One Cup final truly debunked the myth that the cup was a meaningless distraction amidst the turmoil of the season. Both sides were fully committed and produced a final of excellent quality that bodes well for this crucial league encounter. Manuel Pellegrini will feel vindicated that he was able to pick up some silverware in this strange state of pre-Guardiola limbo. Jurgen Klopp’s side were outplayed in general, with Yaya Toure decimating their midfield in a manner I felt was beyond the Ivorian of late. City need the three points to keep their title dream alive while Liverpool strive to find some consistency in their mercurial side.
To Win (90 Mins)
Liverpool 15/10 | Draw 23/10 | Man City 18/10
I felt that Henderson and Can conceded the midfield battle far too timidly to Toure and Fernandinho. Perhaps it’s because neither one had the discipline to just remain in the hole, but the amount of times that Toure burst through the heart of midfield will have left Klopp with much food for thought. I’m almost certain that Benteke will get his opportunity to stake a claim to a more consistent first team berth. Coutinho will play in the number ten role with Lallana and Milner providing guile and experience respectively down the flanks. Firmino was fairly ineffective on Sunday and may be given a rest come Wednesday night.
Mamadou Sakho’s petulance upon being substituted - while somewhat understandable - may see Kolo Toure retain his place in the side. The dogged defender hardly disgraced himself in the heart of defence, staggering about in his unorthodox manner. James Milner is a hard worker- the stats will verify that. But is he really the type of player to elevate Liverpool to a top four position?
Liverpool should benefit from home advantage this week and the added aerial threat posed by one Benteke. Milner’s crossing ability and Lallana’s dribbling skills should provide the languid Belgian with plenty of ammunition.
Raheem Sterling truly had a shocker against his former club. It seems as if the fleet-footed starlet can’t handle the pressure cooker environment that accompanies playing your former club. And you can only imagine the atmosphere that will welcome him at Anfield this week. Pellegrini may see this as a chance to rest Sterling and unleash Navas on the Reds. Navas may be equally unreliable in front of goal, but at least he still seems truly engaged with the ‘avant-garde’ concept of running at defenders.
Starting Fernando alongside Fernandinho seemed to stabilize the City midfield and free up the marauding inclinations of Yaya Toure. Aguero looked sharp and cut through the Liverpool defence effortlessly at times. The cauldron that is Anfield should offer a different challenge though: Wembley is far more similar to the Etihad in terms of atmosphere and dimension.
Additionally, I’m sure that Liverpool will react to their midfield defeat at the weekend. I also feel that Benteke’s presence will force Kompany and Otamendi to face something other than intricacy around the box.
Verdict: Double Chance - Liverpool to win or draw at 4/10I feel like City’s multiple commitments may see them tire slightly, perhaps forcing them to take a more defensive approach. Additionally, there is no way that Liverpool’s midfield will be that porous again. I can’t see Yaya having such a Herculean performance twice in the space of four days.
Bet on these matches now at Hollywoodbets.net! Haven’t got an account? Open one here!