City The Savvy Bet In Top Two ClashStats
Man City v Liverpool
Last season’s title winners face the runners up as Manchester City host Liverpool on Monday night as the fixture list throws up a humdinger in only the second game of the season.
The Premier League champions began the defence of their crown at St. James’s Park last Sunday and came away from Tyneside with a convincing 2-0 win. David Silva opened the scoring seven minutes before half-time with a neat finish following a slick backheel into his path from Edin Dzeko and the game was secured thanks to substitute Sergio Aguero in second half injury time.
It was a composed performance from Manuel Pellegrini’s side coming off the back of a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in the Community Shield just a week earlier when doubts were raised as to their readiness ahead of their league opener against the Toon Army. The Citizens have now won six league games on the trot going back to the tail end of last season, with their last defeat coming at Anfield in April.
Liverpool could consider themselves fortunate to have taken all three points from their first game this term against Southampton, with the second half showing from Ronald Koeman’s side particularly deserving of reward.
It will matter little to boss Brendan Rodgers though, as his relief was palpable on the touchline when the merest of touches in the six yard box from Daniel Sturridge directed Raheem Sterling’s knockdown in 11 minutes from time to earn a 2-1 win at Anfield.
The impressive Sterling opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when he clinically dispatched Jordan Henderson’s fantastic through ball but Nathanial Clyne equalised for the visitors when he thumped home after fine work from debutant Dusan Tadic put the full back in on goal.
Rodgers will be delighted with the points especially since ‘winning ugly’ wasn’t one of his team’s strengths last season, and is regularly cited as the mark of a good team.
Pellegrini will again be without striker Alvaro Negredo as the Spanish striker continues his recovery from a broken foot and the City boss must also decide whether or not to start with Aguero up front or stick with Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic. Defender Eliaquim Mangala is again expected to miss out as the Frenchman is still lacking match fitness and looks set to have to wait for his debut.
Liverpool will be without midfielder Adam Lallana and defender Jon Flanagan again with neither expected to be available until September at the earliest.
Striker Fabio Borini is also sidelined with a shoulder problem while the imminent arrival of Mario Balotelli won’t come in time for the Italian to get clearance in order to feature against his former club. Daniel Agger is also out with a knee problem but new arrival Alberto Moreno is in line to make his debut at full-back.
Head to Head
Liverpool’s 3-2 home win when these clubs last clashed put the title in their hands before City eventually prevailed while the Citizens were 2-1 winners at the Etihad in their first meeting last season when Vincent Kompany and Negredo wiped out Philippe Coutinho’s opener. Prior to that the teams played out three consecutive 2-2 draws.
In a game that’s often gone the way of the home side of late – there hasn’t been an away league win in this fixture since 2008 – it makes perfect sense that City are clear favourites at 5/6.
I think that’s well worth backing as Pellegrini’s men were far more in tune on the opening weekend and look to have taken up where they left off last season.
Over 3.5 goals at 6/4 could prove savvy in a game which pits two fine attacking sides against far from watertight defences too while Sterling, just as he did last weekend, offers great value in the goalscorer market at a massive 9/1 to bag the first or 23/10 to score at any stage with Aguero, provided he starts the stand out selection for the hosts at 4/1 first and 21/20 anytime.