Take a look at this image. Remember it: This is the scoreline that Sky Sports and others would have you believe occurred (albeit at Anfield) earlier this season in the Premier League. Tonight The Blues enter the red hot cauldron as universally designated underdogs slated to come off second best against the Scousers‘ 3 most potent weapons…
History, Atmosphere & Smoke Flares.
From the total deletion of the 3 goals City scored at Anfield to the airbrushing out of existence of our 5-0 whacking of the Reds at The Etihad, the media have chosen whose side they’re on and it does not suit the narrative for City to win tonight. It’s been too long for the Merseyside-loving Media Pundits. And how many of them there are: McManaman, Redknapp, Owen, Souness, Danny Murphy, Steve Nicol…
13 years since The Miracle of Istanbul and 28 years since the last League Championship. The news agenda needs novelty and City are not a brand new phenomenon.
On the field of play though, the tactical possibilities are riveting:
- Raheem or Bernardo?
Will Sterling shrink amid the fire and the fury of hostile chants and obscene hand gestures every time he goes near the ball or will he be motivated to really stick it to them?
- Laporte, Zinchenko or Danilo at LB?
Was Everton an audition for the young left-footed Frenchman? Can Zinchenko be trusted? Doesn’t Danilo have the required pace and physicality?
- Kompany or Stones?
Will the skipper be held back for The Derby or unleashed at Anfield to tame the likes of Salah and Firmino?
- Any chance of Gundogan forming a double defensive midfield pivot with Ferna?
No-one can penetrate the sphinx-like cerebrum of Senior Guardiola however a good bet must be the side that started against Everton – ill-disguised as some sort of dress rehearsal.
What we can expect tonight:
- Greater Use of Ederson – surely an effective ploy against Klopp‘s high an intense gegenpress will be those laser-guided missiles from the Brazilian landing on the toes of KDB or Leroy.
- Targeting Inexperience: As well as Robertson and Alexander-Arnold have done going forward against weaker teams, a fast start and rapid demoralisation of these British youngsters at the hands of Raheem and Sane would surely yield dividends. An early goal would quickly settle nerves and allow the Blues to knock it around with their accustomed aplomb.
- Moving Kompany to left of center to double up on Mohammed Salah with the assistance of Laporte.
- Fluid and rapid rotation in midfield of KDB, Ferna & David Silva with Leroy and Raheem swapping sides regularly. Liverpool‘s functional but workmanlike midfield of Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum and The Ox can be stretched wide or bisected with precision passing.
Doubtless Pep will continue to keep faith in his philosophy that if the opposition don’t have the ball then they can’t hurt you. It will be fascinating to see whether he makes other forms of accommodation for the potent threat of Mane-Firmino-Salah.
What do you think, Blues? Any surprises predicted? Comments, Likes, ReTweets and especially New Followers are very welcome @boltfromtheblu.
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