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25th Aug 2014

Manchester City v Liverpool: What we’ll be looking out for

Ahead of tonight's mouth-watering clash at the Etihad, JOE casts his beady eye across the proceedings to tell you what we will be looking out for.

Eric Lalor

Ahead of tonight’s mouth-watering clash at the Etihad, we cast our eye over the proceedings to tell you what we will be looking out for.

Were Liverpool over-reliant on Luis Suarez and can they repeat last season’s heroics?

Although it’s too early in the season for this to be considered a proper six-pointer, we will be looking for some tell-tale signs for how both of these teams will fare for the rest of the season. Can Liverpool be as effective in an attacking sense now that their brilliant, but slightly mad Uruguayan striker has departed for Spanish shores?

There will be a big responsibility on the shoulders of Daniel Sturridge (pic below). He and Suarez formed a very lethal partnership last season, but Sturridge seems like the player who will relish the challenge of being Liverpool’s go-to man. Mario Balotelli’s arrival is all but confirmed, but tonight is the perfect stage for Sturridge to show Livepool fans that he is big enough and capable enough to ease the pain of Suarez’s absence.

Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund - Pre Season friendly

Raheem Sterling has come on in leaps and bounds as a player and looks like he has switched from the status of promising youngster to accomplished footballer. He has unbelievable pace and will be expected to chip in with more goals this season to ease the burden on Sturridge and, of course, Balotelli. Sterling looks the real deal and could easily become one of the best players in the league and in Europe should his progress continue as it has. He seems to have matured too and is enjoying his football at Anfield.

Liverpool’s chances tonight, as with the rest of the season, will depend on how effective these two players will be. Both players have the ability, but can they deliver on a consistent basis over a long season?

Can Manchester City defend a league title?

City won the league three years ago and their title defence the following season was about as effective as Manchester United’s title push last season. Keen observers will be interested to see how they go about defending their title. They’ve been fairly quiet in the transfer window so far with the only significant purchases being Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala from Porto who has been brought in to bolster the defence.

Pellegrini seems to be of the ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ mind set and he will be looking to do what Roberto Mancini failed to do and that is defend the title. They have an embarrassment of riches up front with the likes of Dzeko, Aguero, Jovetic and Negredo whereas the midfield boasts the likes of Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and the brilliant David Silva (pic below).

Newcastle United v Manchester City - Premier League

Their defence is not too shabby either and features Zabaleta, the superb Vincent Kompany amongst others and to be honest, they don’t look to have any weaknesses. If you had to be very picky, you might pick out the left side of their defence as being somewhat porous as Kolarov and Clichy battle for the position.

The squad is there and we feel that the only thing that can prevent City from successfully defending their title is City themselves. If the mind is right, there is nothing to stop them. Except maybe Chelsea. Nah, nothing will stop them.

Have Liverpool solved their defensive conundrum?

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the Liverpool attack last season and indeed, if it wasn’t for a very leaky defence, they may well have ended their league title drought. Has Brendan Rodgers addressed this issue and will Liverpool be tighter in defence this season? He has brought in the very tough Dejan Lovren from Southampton, who has proved to be a very good defender in the Premier League. Much will depend on how his partnership with Martin Skrtel develops this season.

Spain v Bolivia - International Friendly

Daniel Agger is still there and although maybe not fancied too much by Rodgers, he can do a job and step in as cover to Lovren and Skrtel. The big problem for Liverpool looks like it could be at full-back. They look to have made a shrewd signing in bringing in the Spaniard Alberto Moreno (pic above) from Seville and he could make his debut tonight. The player was highly rated at Seville and at least Liverpool fans won’t have to watch Glen Johnson play in an unfamiliar role back there.

Indeed, many Liverpool fans will be claiming that any role involving defending is an unfamiliar role to Johnson and he will be fearful for his place in the side now that Rodgers has brought in Javier Manquillo from Atletico Madrid on loan for the season. The bottom line is that if Liverpool are to challenge for honours this season, they simply have to defend better. We shall watch with great interest.