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50-50 Challenge: Liverpool v Manchester City

Steven Kelly and David Mooney
April 13, 2014
Brendan Rodgers and Manuel Pellegrini are both vying for the Premier League title © Getty Images
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The destination of the Premier League title could become a whole lot clearer on Sunday, as Manchester City travel to Liverpool.

Brendan Rodgers' side can see a first title in 24 years on the horizon, while Manuel Pellegrini is hoping to win the league in his first season as City manager. It promises to be an enthralling contest as the title run-in gathers pace, and we have club experts Steven Kelly and David Mooney facing off in the latest 50-50 Challenge.

Steven writes for the Irish Examiner and ESPN about Liverpool, while David is a Manchester City author and radio contributor to Blue Moon 1049. Both have the same set of questions to tackle, so let's go ...

Manchester City-Liverpool memories

Steven Kelly: They're mostly good memories, although it's got an awful lot harder since City got their millions. Even then, the Reds are unbeaten in matches at Anfield against the billionaires and even won 3-0 in 2011. If Andy Carroll scoring two goals and actually looking like a £35 million-player isn't memorable, what is? The draw that saw Liverpool win the Carling Cup semi-final tie in 2012 was very exciting but typical of the modern variation of this fixture: City showing their quality but Liverpool gamely trading blow for blow backed up by an unusually vociferous crowd. It's a curious but almost liberating feeling being "underdogs" on your own ground, but one look at the talent City have and it does become quite daunting.

I can remember City coming to Anfield twice in one week in 1995, and conceding 10 goals. I miss those days, gone forever.

David Mooney: The biggest memory I have is being relegated in 1996. City were in 18th position in the Premier League table and the three teams above them were drawing, meaning a win for the Blues at Maine Road would have kept them up and sent Coventry down instead. Naturally, having gone 2-0 down and brought it back to 2-2, City's players were misinformed about results elsewhere and began holding the ball by the corner flag. It took Niall Quinn to come rushing out of the tunnel to get the message to Steve Lomas that, all things considered, it would probably have been a good idea to try and win the game.

It finished 2-2 and City went down.

The rivalry

SK: It must sound like I'm begging fate to punch me in the face but I still can't really take them very seriously. This is after decades of experiencing what was called Typical City, like when Liverpool were the visitors in 1996 and City wasted time for a draw that was only going to see them go down anyway. Afterwards, despite being relegated, a City fan wished me luck in the upcoming cup final with United!

Back when the Reds were top dog there was mutual respect because Liverpool annoyed United so much and in turn the Scousers knew what City fans had to go through in their own backyard. Now they're like the King Ralph of football. Nobody quite understands how they've got what they have but everyone just has to get on with it. It still feels pretty weird. It didn't take long for City fans to get cocky. In a 2008 game they bragged how they were going to take Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard off Liverpool (they didn't) but that the Reds could "keep Dirk Kuyt" - minutes before the Dutchman scored the winner

Typical City.

DM: I've never really felt a great deal of rivalry between City and Liverpool, despite the relationship between the two cities.

However with both sides pushing for the title and having it in their own hands with only a few weeks of the season to go, I'm sensing some animosity. City fans feeling aggrieved at Liverpool's "luck" in getting the number of penalties they've been awarded in recent matches, while Reds fans feel decisions are going the Blues' way.

Fear factor

SK: David Silva's Valencia beginnings meant he was often spoken of fondly and longingly because Rafa Benitez was the Liverpool boss then, almost like he should definitely have played in red, but by 2010 a lot of circumstances had changed. Yaya Toure makes the game look so brilliantly effortless, and if Sergio Aguero is due for a comeback there's another big, big worry. But if I had to sum it up in one word it would be: corners. I haven't figured out whether it's City know-how and height or Liverpool negligence, but they nearly always seem to score one from them.

DM: This is perhaps the easiest question to answer, given the goal-scoring form of both Suarez and Sturridge. All season, I've been waiting for the moment that the partnership falters. Of course, with the latter being an ex-City player too, there's that damning inevitability that he's going to score …

X factor

SK: Luis Suarez of course. Elsewhere, Daniel Sturridge is going through a little drought at present so now would be a really good time for it to rain goals (see what I did there?). Here's hoping Martin Skrtel can prove City aren't quite as good at defending corners as they are at scoring from them, and it will be a battle between Raheem Sterling and Aleksandar Kolarov to see who attacks the most. I doubt they'll even collide on the pitch.

DM: It's hard to overlook Yaya Toure, given how vital his goals have been when the Blues' strikers have been out of form. That said, Edin Dzeko has been playing some of the best football of his career in Manchester, though I suspect he might well find himself on the bench for this game.

Prediction

SK: I'm more or less certain Liverpool won't keep a clean sheet, and am only wishing City can be equally generous. That said, City haven't had a clean sheet at Anfield for 28 years. It's not going to be boring anyway!

Five draws from the last six meetings at Anfield? As boring as it might seem I wouldn't be at all surprised if it becomes six from the last seven.

DM: I'm very worried about this one and would bite your hand, arm, shoulder, and probably some of your torso off for a draw. That would keep the title in City's hands, but leave Liverpool with work to do. While I don't think Pellegrini will play for the draw I think he'd settle for it. 1-1.

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