Hamann picks Man City to beat Liverpool
LIVERPOOL v MAN CITY
(Tomorrow, 8pm, Singtel TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)
Anfield has not been a happy hunting ground for Manchester City.
The Citizens have not beaten Liverpool there in 12 visits, and their last win was a 2-1 triumph almost 12 years ago, when a Nicolas Anelka double gave them the three points.
But I'm tipping Manuel Pellegrini's men to come out on top tomorrow.
Liverpool had a terrible result in Turkey yesterday morning (Singapore time) when they were knocked out of the Europa League on penalties by Besiktas.
Winning the Europa League would have seen them qualify for next year's Champions League.
But the loss to Besiktas has now put extra pressure on the Reds in the Premier League.
By the time Brendan Rodgers' men kick off tomorrow, their rivals for the fourth spot - Manchester United and Southampton - could have extended their lead to five and four points respectively.
Liverpool know they cannot afford to slip up in the race for a top-four spot, and I think the pressure will get to them.
Okay, City might also have lost when they were outclassed 2-1 by Barcelona in a Champions League Round-of-16, first-leg clash on Tuesday.
But, of the two teams, I think Liverpool will be more affected by their loss.
City still have a chance to go through, even though it's an uphill task and I don't think they'll go to Barcelona and win by two or three goals.
But Liverpool are out. And it's always a huge blow to players whenever you get knocked out of competitions.
On top of that, City will have captain Yaya Toure back for the Anfield clash - he was suspended against Barcelona in midweek - and he will be a real boost for the visitors.
Liverpool, meanwhile, can unleash their own star in Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who was rested and did not travel to Turkey for the Besiktas game.
There's no doubt he's a man in form, and his wonderful goal in last Saturday's 2-0 win over Southampton is testament to that.
But, despite their recent good form, I feel that there are still question marks hanging over Liverpool. They've had problems up front all season.
Daniel Sturridge is still not 100 per cent fit, Mario Balotelli doesn't score enough goals or work hard enough for the team.
For me, it's obvious Raheem Sterling should start up front against City.
It's no coincidence Liverpool played their best games this season when he has played in the forward position.
In midfield, they've missed the leadership of Steven Gerrard, who has been out for the past two weeks with a hamstring injury.
There are times when you need a player like him and the City game is one of them. But, unless he is 100 per cent fit, I don't think he should play.
The defence has done okay, but Mamadou Sakho missing out is bad news.
Many people have given Dejan Lovren stick after his missed penalty sent Liverpool crashing out of the Europa League, but there is no disgrace in missing a penalty. I think he'll be fine.
Even though goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has regained some form and recently took the lead in most number of Premier League clean sheets this season, he will face a stern test against one of the league's best attacks in Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Toure.
And don't forget the Citizens have more firepower on the bench, where they can count on the likes of Wilfried Bony and James Milner to come on and change the game if need be.
Simply put, City are too classy and powerful for Liverpool, and I think they will run out 3-1 winners.
- Dietmar Hamann has played for Bayern Munich, Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester City. He won the Bundesliga in 1994 and 1997, and the treble of the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup with Liverpool in 2001, besides the Champions League in 2005. The ex-German international is the author of The Didi Man: My Love Affair With Liverpool.
City hope to catch reds napping
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini will hope to exploit Liverpool's staying power after their draining European exploits in tomorrow night's crucial English Premier League clash.
But the Chilean but does not believe fatigue will be a major factor and has warned that his side still have an important job to do at Anfield.
With Chelsea involved in the League Cup final, City can cut the London side's lead at the top of the table to two points with a victory in the 8pm kick-off on Merseyside.
City should go into the game much fresher, having not played since last Tuesday while Liverpool returned from their Europa League game at Besiktas only at about 12.30pm yesterday (Singapore time).
Pellegrini said: "I think that of course it is an advantage, (but) not a decisive one because I always think the decisive thing is the performance on the day of the game.
"If we think we are going to win that game because Liverpool arrived back late, that is not the reason.
"But I have played in the Europa League and when you arrive on Friday it is not the best way to prepare for a game on Sunday - but those are the rules. They are playing Europa League."
Liverpool effectively lost a night's sleep after their match went to penalties and their return flight was delayed. The disrupted preparation could blunt Liverpool's edge just as they seem to be building momentum for a top-four charge, but Pellegrini is not attaching too much significance to it.
He said: "We must play very good because they also have a strong squad. I don't think they will play the same starting 11 as on Thursday. They are a strong team and it is a difficult stadium."
City were outplayed last Tuesday as they lost the first leg of their Champions League Round-of-16 tie to Barcelona 2-1. But on the home front, they beaten Stoke and Newcastle 4-1 and 5-0 respectively.
Pellegrini added: "It is very important to beat Liverpool and to continue winning, and continue fighting until the end to retain the title." - PA Sport.