City vs. Liverpool in the Sterling Derby

After a long international break, it’s finally time for some Premier League action. This weekend, we’ll see the league leaders take on a fellow giant as Manchester City host Liverpool at the Etihad. The Citizens currently sit level on points with Arsenal for the top spot in the league, but their superior goal differential puts them in first. Liverpool, on the other hand, find themselves tenth in table and seven points off the top four. Can the Reds walk away with some points?

Things under Jürgen Klopp didn’t start out as planned. It wasn’t until his fourth game in charge that Liverpool was able to claim a victory. After those four straight draws to start his reign at Anfield, Klopp’s squad managed to rattle off three straight wins, including a momentous 3-1 demolition of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The last round of fixtures brought with it Liverpool’s first loss under Klopp as they fell 2-1 to Crystal Palace at Anfield. Even though Liverpool been picking up more points since Klopp’s arrival, they’ve also been struggling to find the back of the net. The match against Chelsea marked the only time that the Reds managed to score more than once in a game. It seems like this dearth of goals is due more to Klopp’s defensive tactics rather than a poor attacking product from the Liverpool forwards. Expect the “Normal One” to send out another defensive lineup against City.

A player with the potential to end some of Liverpool’s offensive struggles could be returning just in time for Saturday’s match according to Klopp. Daniel Sturridge, who hasn’t played since October fourth, could be making his return after yet another lengthy injury layoff. When the 26-year-old is at 100 percent, he’s arguably the best striker that England has to offer. However, it’s becoming increasingly rare for Sturridge to actually be completely healthy. Last season, the Englishman played just 12 games in the league. The year before that, he missed nine games through injury. With such an injury-riddled past, I don’t think that Klopp is going to risk Sturridge if the game is overly physical, and even if he does play it will most likely won’t be for the full 90. Can Sturridge make his minutes count when given the chance?

Sterling for City

Image: Rex Features

Saturday’s match will be the first time since his summer move to City that Raheem Sterling will take on his former employers Liverpool. The 20-year-old winger spent the first three years of his professional career in Merseyside before a drawn out transfer saga this summer saw him leave the club under less than favorable conditions. While some, including myself, questioned whether or not Sterling would be able to succeed in Manchester, it’s looking more and more like City have a superstar on their hands. Through 16 games this season, Sterling has put away five goals, including a marvelous hat trick against Bournemouth at the start of the month. The fact that this game isn’t being played at Anfield should limit the hostility that the 20-year-old faces from the crowd, but it will be interesting to see how his former teammates treat him on the pitch.

Just as Liverpool could see the return of their star striker, City could be getting the same type of boost. Manuel Pellegrini’s side have been forced to play without star striker Sergio Agüero for nearly two months. The Argentine told City’s official website that he hoped to play in Saturday’s match. Agüero’s last Premier League appearance saw him score five, yes five, times against Newcastle United. However, just like in Sturridge’s case, Agüero is such an important player for City’s future, don’t be surprised if Pellegrini holds him out if he doesn’t think the striker is 100 percent fit. If the does play Saturday, Aguero provides the City frontline with a creative spark and an almost unmatched nose for goal.

As much as I would love to see Klopp take down City at the Etihad, I don’t think that he has the squad to do it. The emphasis on not losing games, rather than going out and winning will be the downfall of Liverpool Saturday. Final score: Man City 2-0 Liverpool

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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