Liverpool entertain Manchester City at Anfield on Monday needing a victory if they are to cling onto feint hopes of qualifying for a Champions League spot.
Without three first choice players, the Reds face an uphill task against the Blues who sit in fourth position in the Premier League with Roberto Mancini’s main aim for the season being to hold onto that place and bring Champions League football to Eastlands next season.
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard is out for the rest of the season, now defenders Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson have been added to the injured list, leaving the squad list looking threadbare. Manager Kenny Dalglish was forced into playing four central defenders in the 2-1 defeat at West Brom and may have to adopt the same plan against City.
Fabio Aurelio and Jonjo Shelvey have returned to training and will provide options for Dalglish at some point but are unlikely to be fit enough for consideration for Monday night’s game.
Online bookmaker Coral, at 13/8, go best odds for a home win and the optimists in the Kop could point to the fact City have not won at Anfield in the last seven visits taking a meagre two points from those games. Then there’s the distraction of an FA Cup semi-final with city rivals Manchester United on Saturday.
Mancini has no additional injury concerns following the swaggering 5-0 demolition of Sunderland at Eastland last Sunday week, but Jerome Boateng and Micah Richards continue to be unavailable. City fans would love to see a reproduction of the flair in which the team approached that game and a first win on the road in 2011 would set them up nicely for the trip to Wembley.
City’s defence can expect a tougher examination from Liverpool with target man Andy Carroll getting stronger with every game after his long injury absence. The £35million striker has played three times since his return and is looking to start repaying the club’s record investment by opening his scoring account, among the main bookmakers, Coral offer best odds of 6/1 for Carroll to open the scoring.