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Liverpool ravaged by injuries


Man City should be confident of obtaining a result this weekend away at Anfield in light of Liverpool’s injury woes and current poor run of form

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man United will be looking to close the gap on leaders Chelsea with a big win at home to Everton. AFP

THE Premiership makes its welcome return once again to occupy my weekend. To start things off in style, moneybags Man City travel to Anfield to take on a Liverpool side ravaged by injuries. The top two might still be set in stone, but this could be the game when the reality of a big four is torn apart.

Liverpool are on a dismal run domestically and in Europe, and the Reds treatment room seems as desperate as the clubs finances. This must be the first time in Premiership history when City will feel confident of taking all three points away from Anfield. Benitez is under enormous pressure to deliver, but the side he is likely to put out Saturday will be average at best, with a whole host of stars unavailable.

City might be drawing too many games at present, but they’ve only lost once this season and must surely realise this is their chance to prove they’ve got the credentials on the pitch to match their financial muscle off it.

With Torres, Benayoun, Riera, Johnson and Gerrard all major injuries concerns, Liverpool could find this seasons target reduced to mere Champions League qualification. Gerrard is quoted as saying he thinks he’ll be ready for the City clash. Without him, it is difficult to see where the Reds will find that moment of class that normally separates them from the majority of other sides.

City have pace and power up front, and have good enough ball players to keep possession and hush the Kop. In the past an away victory would’ve seem madness, but for me this is the time when will see a major shift in the Premiership’s hierarchy. Adebayor is the key man for City, as he should bully a now fragile Liverpool defence and lead his team to a narrow victory.

The late game on Saturday sees the champions host Everton in what you’d think would be a customary three points for Man United. Sir Alex’s fury at referees will not have died down during the international break. United generally seem to get the run of the green, but Ferguson was quite right in his comments regarding Chelsea’s winner.

United can’t afford to slip up, being five points off Chelsea, and should be fired up to battle it out with Everton, who will surely want to make the game into a war of attrition.

The class difference is unquestionable, and unless the Red Devils lose focus, they should demolish Everton. For some reason I just fancy United to click this weekend, with Rooney, Berbatov and Giggs running riot in a likely home banker.

Sunderland’s performances have been promising of late, but haven’t managed to turn them into points. Last time out, they fully deserved to beat Spurs but failed to capitalise on their domination. This weekend they host another north London side that have much more pedigree.

Arsenal are starting to look decent outsiders for the title. Van Persie, Clichy and Gibbs have been unfortunate casualties this week and their absence could hurt Arsene Wenger’s side. This will be a tough test for the Gunners.

Sunderland under Steve Bruce have found another gear, and are looking to steadily improve as a football club. Sunderland won’t give Arsenal anytime on the ball, and will play high up the pitch trying to disrupt the Gunners fluent football.

Fabregas will have to step up another notch because of the absent Van Persie. This one could be a classic, and with Bent desperate to maintain Capello’s attention, I fancy a high-scoring draw.

Chelsea and Tottenham both have home games you’d expect them to win comfortably. Chelsea, might have been lucky against the champions, but they’re building up some solid momentum. Wolves were torn apart by Arsenal last time out, and you’d have to think the Blues will inflict a similar punishment. Lampard and Ballack are key injury concerns, but the replacements are fully fledged internationals with the likes of Deco and Joe Cole keen to impress Ancelotti. Only the insane would back against a home victory.

Spurs might still be in the top four but they aren’t looking as good as they were at the start of the season. Redknapp surely must realize he can’t play Crouch, Keane and Defoe in the same team. Lennon’s pace has been sorely missed along with the guile of Modric, but Tottenham at home should have far too much class in the tank for an inconsistent Wigan.



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