Could Manchester City overcome their recent blip? Could Liverpool channel all the Luis Suarez controversy in a positive way? Miguel Delaney was following all the action
Welcome to another night of Premier League action. An intriguing game tonight as Manchester City host Liverpool. Because, as if the title and Champions League races weren’t enough, this game has a few dimensions only adding the dynamics of this game. Both, after all, have faced adversity in recent weeks. City’s has been of the more mundane variety, of course. Having only dropped four points in their first 14 games, they’ve not only won seven from their last five. Worse, having scored an average of 3.5 goals a game in those opening 14, that has dropped to a goal a game. Blip, of course, is the word we’re looking for. But there also increasing questions over whether they’ll be able to handle the pressure of a title race at the first time of asking.
Liverpool, meanwhile, have finally – it seems – come out the other side of the Luis Suarez saga. Just over an hour before this game was due to kick-off, they released a statement saying that they would not be appealing the striker’s eight-game ban. But, if the statement is anything to go by, that is a highly reluctant decision.
Of course, we’ll also be keeping an eye on Tottenham’s match against West Brom and Sunderland’s trip to Wigan.
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto, Van der Vaart, Modric, Sandro, Bale, Adebayor, Defoe. Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Giovani, Bassong, Kranjcar, Rose, Livermore.
West Brom: Foster, Jones, Dawson, McAuley, Shorey, Cox, Thorne, Scharner, Dorrans, Thomas, Odemwingie. Subs: Fulop, Tchoyi, Morrison, Jara Reyes, Mantom, Tamas, Fortune
Carroll starts for Liverpool. Gerrard and Suarez don’t. Liverpool’s decision not to to appeal means his ban starts immediately.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Gohouri, Alcaraz, Figueroa, Stam, Watson, McCarthy, Jones, Gomez, Crusat, Rodallega
Subs: Pollitt, Di Santo, Moses, McArthur, Boyce, Sammon, Diame.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Gardner, Kilgallon, O’Shea, Colback, McClean, Cattermole, Vaughan, Richardson, Sessegnon, Bendtner
Subs: Carson, Ji, Meyler, Elmohamady, Noble, Lynch, Laing
Man City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Kolo Toure, Clichy, Yaya Toure, Barry, Aguero, Silva, Milner, Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Lescott, Johnson, Kolarov, Savic, De Jong.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Adam, Kuyt, Henderson, Spearing, Downing, Carroll. Subs: Doni, Gerrard, Maxi, Carragher, Shelvey, Kelly, Bellamy
And we’re off White Hart Lane and the JJB Stadium.
A few interesting gestures between Charlie Adam and Andy Carroll just prior to kick-off there as they clearly discuss what type of cross the striker wants.
And we’re off.
Oh, should have been 1-0 Liverpool! City had controlled the first few minutes only for Liverpool to catch them napping. Downing was put one-on-one only to fluff the chance as Hart smothered the space well.
GOAL! Manchester City 1-0 Liverpool
Oh dear Reina. That’s a bad one. Silva plays it into Aguero who tries a speculative shot. It’s low so should be easy for Reina… but he allows it to slip under his body. That was a poor goal to concede.
Still 0-0 elsewhere as City contain and control Liverpool here.
This from Barry Glendenning:
“Have Liverpool released a statement about Reina’s error yet, saying he didn’t make one?”
Free-kick to Liverpool here, who have come back into it as the game has progressed.
Jordan Henderson smashes the free into the wall.
Of course, one of the more interesting questions out of the Suarez affair will be whether it benefits the Liverpool career of Andy Carroll. Becaus eof the Uruguayan’s obvious qualities, the Liverpool attack has generally only had two real routes: Suarez’s invebtion or deeper crosses.
Neither have really suited Carroll as he gels with the team and Suarez’s absence may force Dalglish to alter his role in a way that actually improves the striker’s form. Either way, some kind of change is needed.
Kompany just wide with a header from the corner!
GOAL! Manchester City 2-0 Liverpool
Having just been given a warning from Vincent Kompany, Liverpool are then punished from the opposite side. Aguero swings over a corner for Yaya Toure to head in off the bar. Glen Johnson might have done better with the marking and Reina – again – might have done better with the effort. Although it was quite close in.
It’s half-time at White Hart Lane where it’s Tottenham 0-0 West Brom
After a few weeks where he hadn’t looked his sumptuous best, Silva is running the game at present.
GOAL! Wigan 0-1 Sunderland
Against the run of play – with Wigan having hit the post – Craig Gardner fires in a brilliant free-kick for Sunderland
Silva fires just over with a free-kick. Looking glum for Liverpool at the minute.
You really feel Liverpool need to get the next goal here… and soon.
HALF-TIME: Manchester City 2-0 Liverpool
City probably deserve to be ahead of an otherwise even game, but not by two goals. And, ultimately, the extra difference is down to Reina’s howler. Liverpool really need to strike next or the feeling is City could surge away with this one.
Sorry, a technical glitch there. We’re under way again at Eastlands.
GOAL! Wigan 0-2 Sunderland
James McClean continues his sparkling form by scoring his first goal for Sunderland! He’s just onside as he heads a second attempt home after Al-Habsi had saved his first header from David Vaughan’s cross.
GOAL! Tottenham 1-0 West Brom
Bale sets up Defoe, who spins and fires home. Tottenham on course for another victory.
GOAL! Wigan 1-2 Sunderland
Wigan immediately strike back with a fine move. Rodallega completes it with a superb strike, even if it needed a deflection.
In another good moment for the irish tonight, James McCarthy set that up.
Meanwhile, Steven Gerrard comes on for Adam for the third game running while Bellamy comes on for Kuyt.
Bellamy swings a cross in, but Clichy beats Carroll to it in the air.
In the Copa del rey in Spain, meanwhile, Malaga are beating Real Madrid 1-0
Liverpool have had 66% possession in the second half and almost 60% in the game as a whole… but yet have never looked fully like doing much.
Mancini bringing on Nigel De Jong in order to ecover from the iniative that has been lost from midfield.
It feels oddly flat at Eastlands at the minute as City look to contain the game.
GOAL! Wigan 1-3 Sunderland
And the O’Neill revival continues apace. Bendtner breaks down the right and crosses superbly for the excellent Stephane Sessegnon to tap in at the back post.
At the moment, it’s hard to see any of these end-results changing.
GOAL! Wigan 1-4 Sunderland
What an effect O’Neill has had. And what a start McClean has had. He sets up a fourth goal, this time for David Vaughan with a great strike. But superb work from McClean
RED CARD! Gareth Barry
That is very harsh on Barry, it has to be said. He receives a second booking for another innocuous push. The ref has had a poor game.
As Yaya Toure bursts into the box, Skrtel catches him. Hard to dispute and an immediate fillip for City after the red card.
GOAL! Manchester City 3-0 Liverpool
Milner hits the penalty superbly into the top corner.
That was a fairly hectic minute. And a decisive one.
Adam Johnson smashes the post!
Rafael Van der Vaart clears off the line for Tottenham. That’ll be a tight enough win.
FULL-TIME: Tottenham 1-0 West Brom
Spurs hang on despite more injuries and late West Brom pressure. Another result that just keeps momentum going.
FULL-TIME: Wigan 1-4 Sunderland
A scintillating performance from Sunderland, particularly in the last 20 minutes.
It’s amazing how reliant Liverpool still are on Gerrard. other than Bellamy, the only one showing life out there.
Good line doing rounds on twitter: in a game with 0-0 written all over it, Liverpool have managed to lose 3-0.
Vincent Kompany named man of the match, which sums up the night. Although it still feels like he hasn’t had too much to do.
FULL-TIME: Manchester City 3-0 Liverpool
That’s it. Although they weren’t exactly as convincing as the scoreline suggests, City overcome their Christmas blip in routine enough fashion. They did have two Liverpool errors to thank, though, with Reina missing Aguero’s shot and Skrtel fouling for the third penalty. But at least it means they pick up momentum again. Liverpool, meanwhile, were given a glimpse of what life without Luis Suarez is going to be like. They could have played for another 90 minutes and not scored there. Kenny Dalglish has a lot of work to do on that attack.