Weblog: The football punter
Liverpool demonstrated title-winning attributes by snatching a 2-1 victory from the jaws of defeat against Aston Villa and can take another huge step forward by defeating Manchester City at Anfield.
The first meeting of the season between the two Premier League giants has been eagerly anticipated and it could have a major impact on who finishes top of the pile.
Given the quality of the teams any advantage gained is important and, even though there are over two thirds of the season remaining, the difference between a three-point gap and a nine-point gap would be hugely significant.
City edged their personal series last season – drawing 0-0 at Anfield and winning 2-1 at the Etihad – and those four points proved decisive by the end of a thrilling title race won by a solitary point.
Liverpool played better in the away fixture and have learned to pace themselves more in big games and not blow themselves out after 15 minutes – as appeared to be the case in last October’s goalless draw.
They came on strong in the second half of their famous 4-0 home victory over Barcelona and were relentless at home to Tottenham recently – recovering from the shock of Harry Kane’s first minute goal to win 2-1.
City will provide a sterner test and should be full of confidence after winning seven of their last eight domestic fixtures.
But their defence has been missing Aymeric Laporte and they have failed to keep clean sheets in successive home games with Southampton.
Liverpool have shown they can shut out the top teams and their rock-solid defence, anchored by the imperious Virgil van Dijk, could be the key to victory.