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    Liverpool vs Manchester City

    The clash of the weekend sees Liverpool welcome Champions Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday.

    It is the first time that City make the trip across the M62 to face the Reds since the dramatic 3-2 win for the hosts last April.

    The stakes might not be as high for Liverpool as last season’s thrilling victory but the importance of this fixture should not be underestimated for both teams.

    Liverpool come into the game on the back of a remarkable run of form that has seen them pick up 23 points out of a possible 27. This return has seen them top the form guide and given Brendan Rodger’s men the highest points tally in 2015.

    This impressive upturn in form may not have seemed possible after the bleak winter the Redmen endured, which included Champions League elimination and a demoralising defeat at Crystal Palace which left them languishing in 12th place.

    However with fierce rivals Manchester United suffering a defeat at Swansea and Spurs dropping points at home to West Ham last weekend, Sunday’s 2-0 win over fifth-placed Southampton has moved Brendan Rodgers men to within two points of a Champions League place.

    Any pressure that the Red’s gaffer may have been feeling has quickly transformed into renewed optimism for him and his squad. The outscoring of opponents that was a hallmark of last season’s title bid has made way for a  3-4-2-1 formation that has seen them become resolute at the back with six cleans sheets in their last 10 league outings.

    Man City on the other hand travel to Merseyside with their title bid back on track following a disappointing January.

    Taking advantage of Chelsea’s surprising slip at home to Burney, last weekend’s emphatic 5-0 victory over the Magpies has seen the lead at the top of the table cut to five points.

    City have undoubtedly been buoyed by the return of Yaya Toure from the African Cup of Nations, when the Ivorian was away they won only once and were also knocked out of the FA Cup by Championship Middlesbrough.

    Although both teams are in European action this week, Manchester City may come into the clash the fresher of the two teams.

    Manuel Pelligrini’s men host Barcelona at the Etihad on Tuesday night, however Liverpool face a tricky trip to the scene of their most famous night when they take on Besiktas in Istanbul 48 hours later.

    It will be interesting to see what team Rodgers sends to Turkey for the second leg of the Europa League tie. With the clash in the balance at 1-0, Liverpool have a welcomed dilemma when it comes to challenging on all fronts. A Europa League trophy in May would hand Liverpool automatic qualification into next season’s Champions League, but a lengthy run in the competition could have the potential to hamper any top four challenge.

    In team news, Man City could hand a first league start to new signing Wilfried Bony but with Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko getting on the scoresheet against Newcastle, it would be surprising to see him named in the starting 11 at Anfield. For the hosts, it is still unclear whether Steven Gerrard will be available for the game after suffering a hamstring injury against Tottenham a fortnight ago.

    With Chelsea not in league action due to the Capital One Cup Final, City have the opportunity to cut the deficit at the top of the table to 2 points. Liverpool will also be hoping Sunderland do them a favour at Old Trafford on Saturday so they can continue to make inroads on the top four positions.

    If both teams can produce anywhere near the drama and excitement of last year’s match we are in for a cracker on Sunday. Despite their excellent recent run, a draining excursion to Istanbul on Thursday may take its toll on Liverpool and we might be in for a reverse score line this time around.

    Prediction: Liverpool 2-3 Man City
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool vs Manchester City Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Arun Gray
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