Spyin' Kop - Man City v Liverpool - 3rd Feb 2013

Posted by StevenLFC on February 1, 2013, 05:34:22 PM

Manchester City v Liverpool

Sunday 3rd February
Kick Off: 4pm

It's hard to know how to feel after the draw away at Arsenal. Most honest Liverpool fans would admit that they'd have taken a point if offered it prior to kick off, but after squandering a 2-0 lead it's hard to know to feel. However, focus must now shift towards our visit to the Mario Balotelli-less champions on Sunday. The reverse fixture at Anfield finished 2-2 after Carlos Tevez capitalised on a mistake from Martin Skrtel to equalise and gain Man City a point. Ahead of the game, I asked a few questions to the guys on the BlueMoon forum, and I got plenty of responses. I've selected the first few answers to share with you, but you can view them all by clicking here.


1. What have you made of your season so far – did you believe at the beginning of the season you would be where you are now?

Blue Haze: I thought we'd be second or just slightly first but not 7 points back.

Wolfie1988: Disappointing in some ways after the high of the conclusion of last season. Started the season with big hopes but certain factors soon put a dampener on things, like Aguero getting injured 5 minutes into the 1st game and a underwhelming transfer window where I felt we failed to capitalise on a big opportunity as Champions. Overall its not been too bad but we've struggled to score goals and the football hasn't been anywhere near what we were playing at the start and end of last season.

Matty: Below expectations. We've struggled to score as freely as last season, which has come as a bit of a surprise. I always thought we'd be in the Champion's League spots, but I thought we'd be closer to top spot than the current 7 point gap, especially given United aren't actually anything special.

2. For the second season running your side didn't perform too well in the Champions League – why do you think they were unable to replicate their league form in the competition, was it just the quality of the opponents in a tough group or are there other reasons?

Blue Haze: The quality of the opposition was a factor. But not the only one, as we performed poorly against Ajax. We could not overcome personnel and tactical deficiencies.

Wolfie1988: It was a tough group, but lets face it, it was a tough group for Madrid, Dortmund and Ajax too. If we had held on in the Bernabeu it may have been a different story but the truth is we could and should have got mauled by Dortmund(By far the best team in the group and that I've seen come to the Etihad) and the two performances against Ajax were awful. For me the tactics weren't great and our defending wasn't up to it's usual high standards.

Matty: We did, yet again, have an extremely tough group. When Borussia Dortmund are your 4th pot team (when Chelsea got Nordsjaelland, and United got Cluj) you're always going to find it tricky to qualify. That being said, a return of 3 points from 6 games was completely unacceptable. There seems to be some kind of mental (or tactical) block for Mancini when it comes to Europe, he hardly had a stellar record at Inter, and at City he's been even worse. We tend to play far too slowly in Europe, too much sideways passing and possession play without any cutting edge.

3. The transfer window passed without much in terms of additions for City, and of course Mario Baloteli left to join Milan. What are you feelings on the strength of your squad post-January, and how do you feel about Mario's departure?

Blue Haze: Mario made £100k per week and couldn't be bothered to train hard enough to make the bench. Can't have that lack of commitment. Good move to sell.

Wolfie1988: It's strong don't get me wrong but it probably should be stronger. We lack a real clinical finisher and that's what will probably have stung us when we come to look at the table at the end of the season. Mario had to go. Too much pantomine, not enough quality on the pitch. He showed flashes at times but at others he was no more than a liability. Most fans including me will miss him but thats more for his off pitch antics. Hopefully he can go to Milan and become the player he really should be.

Matty: I feel, strength wise, the squad is lacking in a few areas. Our summer spending wasn't too impressive, Nastasic aside the others (Rodwell, Sinclair, Garcia, Maicon) haven't exactly pulled up any trees. So a January where we added no-one (save for an unknown Ghanain youth team player) and lost an influential, if unpredictable and frustrating, player in Balotelli can't really be viewed as successful. I feel we need another striker (John Guidetti might step up, but that's not certain) and a centre half (injuries and International duty meant Javi Garcia played there against QPR). As for Balotelli leaving, I'd reached the point where I was willing to run the risk of him "coming good" elsewhere in order to cash in and hopefully replace him with someone who can contribute now (or in the summer at this point).

4. Who have been the players in the City squad that you have been most impressed with this season and why?

Blue Haze:
Pablo Zabaleta. He has once again improved and gives 100% every game, he never lets us down. He's been our best performer due to his consistency.

Wolfie1988: Matija Nastasic has been the biggest plus this season. After last seasons disaster that was Stefan Savic, Nasty has come in and probably been one of our most consistent performers. He's 19 and already a good centre half. If he gets savvy to the over physical teams he will be one of the best in the world. Zabaleta who most now rate as the best right back in the Premier League has added even more to his game this year and wears his heart on his sleeve. Clichy is forever improving and David Silva is coming back into form. Small mention to Gareth Barry too. Gets slated by the press and other clubs fans but without him we look a shadow of the side.

Matty: Zabaleta. Absolutely. I worried, when the big names arrived, whether he'd be good enough to stick around, he's proven he's more than good enough. For me he's our player of the season thus far, and a mile clear as the Premiership's best right back. Nastasic has also impressed, he's only 19 and in his first Premiership season, but he's displaced Lescott as the main starting centre half alongside Kompany and looks very composed.

5. Any players under-performed?

Blue Haze: Quite a few. Aguero and Tevez lost whatever synergy they had, neither scoring many goals. Nasri has been a massive letdown, his actions in the wall against the scum cost us 3 points. Kompany and Yaya haven't been nearly as sharp as last season.

Wolfie1988: Plenty. Samir Nasri has been a huge disappointment, only showing flashes of brilliance. Our whole striking department haven't really performed great this year and thats got to change if we are to get close to United.

Matty: A few to be fair. Balotelli, pre-departure, hadn't shown any real form this season. Dzeko, despite a decent record in terms of goals, has been hit and miss performance wise. Tevez still gives 100%, but his goalscoring has dried up. Kompany has taken a backward step, although he's still been pretty good.
6. I'd like to change the focus to Liverpool now if you don't mind. What is your opinion on how our season has gone so far, and what do you think of the job Brendan Rodgers is doing at Liverpool?

Blue Haze: It's too early to judge Rodgers. I thought at the time you should have hired someone else, but everyone deserves a chance once given the job. Your season has gone about as I'd expected. The positive: you have Suarez, who is genuinely world class. With the core of quality you have (excellent CB pairing, good keeper, world class striker) it wouldn't take much more than 2-3 more good signings to elevate you to CL contender or better. The negative: I think your owners are bad. They are your typical yank vulture types who swoop in on undervalued assets, invest as little as possible while waiting for a big buyer. Not talking shite, I work around these types. Their real passion is the Red Sox, and right now they can't even run them well.

Wolfie1988: Things are certainly improving for Liverpool but the inconsistency still remains. Signs are that Rodgers has got you playing some decent stuff and the overplaying in silly areas that we saw at the start of the season now seems to have been eradicated. Can't see you quite making the top 4 but anything is possible with Arsenal being a shadow of themselves and Spurs likely to fall away. Performance at Old Trafford was poor 1st half but the 2nd half performance was much better and you could and should have nicked a point.

Matty: I think Liverpool's season has been another disappointing one, from your perspective. Rodgers was saddled with players he obviously doesn't want, but as Dalglish spent so much on some real mediocre players (Downing, Henderson, Adam etc) it seems Rodgers hasn't been given the same amount of money. Rodgers seems to be trying to fit a lot of square pegs into round holes when it comes to the players at his disposal, and the style of football he's trying to employ. Even with Sturridge I think you're lacking in the attacking third, and the fact you're being forced to bed in so many young players at once speaks volumes for the squad quality/depth. I think Liverpool fans need to recognise the differences between where the club used to be and where it is at present, and temper their expectations. The current squad is not a Champion's League qualifying one, you have a select few high quality players (Gerrard, Suarez) but too many average ones to make a top 4 push. Europa League qualification should be the aim, and even then there are some very strong sides to compete with (Everton, Spurs, Arsenal).

7. Are there any members of the current Liverpool squad that you would like to see playing at City?

Blue Haze: Suarez is an obvious one. I think we'd be leading the rags if we had him, world class no question. Agger and Lucas are top players. From your youth ranks, I'd love to have Suso! He looked great at the U19 Euros.

Wolfie1988: Obviously Suarez. who has added goals this year where perhaps he would have smashed one against the post/bar last year. Other than that I rate Agger highly but i don't think our defence needs to change.

Matty: In all honesty, no. In terms of quality there's only really Gerrard and Suarez who I feel are good enough (maybe one of the centre halves, but they'd be a squad player rather than a regular starter). Gerrard is the wrong side of 30 now so I don't really see adding him as a sensible decision. Suarez, on quality alone, would be an excellent addition. But he comes with baggage. The last 12 to 18 months haven't endeared him to the neutral fan and, as City are in a position of strength when it comes to bring in top quality players, I'd rather we went for someone else.

8. Our sides drew 2-2 at Anfield earlier this year in a game full of quality and mistakes in pretty equal measure. Do you see the game at the Etihad being another high scoring game?

Blue Haze:
Who knows which City will show up? We haven't scored too many recently so I don't know what to expect.

Wolfie1988: I can't see it being a high scoring game myself but it will certainly be our biggest defensive test for some time and we may find ourself conceding for the 1st time in 2013.

Matty: No, I think the game at our place will be won by a solitary goal, and I think we'll get it. We haven't conceded in our last 6 competitive games (league and FA Cup), but we haven't been as prolific this season either (Dzeko and Aguero had 15 and 16 goals respectively by this time last season, to date they've got 11 and 10 goals during the current campaign).

9. How do you think Roberto Mancini will approach the game and what team do you think he'll select?

Blue Haze: A very attacking lineup. Probably only 2 central mids and the rest attackers. Hart-Pablo-Kompany(if fit)/Garcia(if not)-Nastasic-Kolarov-Milner-Barry-Nasri-Silva-Dzeko-Aguero

Wolfie1988: We have to win or face falling further behind United. We also have to be tight defensively so it's likely to be an attacking side with more than one eye on staying solid. I'd pick:

Hart, Zabaleta, Nastasic, Lescott, Clichy, Barry, Garcia, Milner, Silva, Aguero & Dzeko

Obviously if Kompany is fit he would replace Lescott but I highly doubt he'll be available after his calf strain.

Matty: Mancini will approach the game in his normal way, we'll play possession football, moving it sideways and backwards, trying to work an opportunity through the middle of the pitch without really bothering to get it out wide too much. It'll end up very congested in midfield. As for the team, with the absenties (Yaya, Kolo, Kompany) I think we'll probably go with:-

Hart, Clichy, Nastasic, Garcia, Zabaleta, Barry, Milner, Nasri, Silva, Dzeko, Aguero

10. Finally, care to make a prediction?

Blue Haze:
I'll be boring and say 2-0 City. I also predicted we'd beat QPR so...

Wolfie1988: I'm going to go 2-1 to City but its not going to be easy.

Matty: 1-0 win for City

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