LIVERPOOL (Sporting Alert) — Manchester City will have energetic midfielder Yaya Toure back for Sunday’s highlighted English Premier League clash with Liverpool at Anfield.
Toure missed Tuesday night’s Champions League defeat against Barcelona because of suspension, but manager Manuel Pellegrini is set to recall the Ivory Coast star as he seeks to close the gap on leaders Chelsea, who will be inactive because of the Capital One Cup final.
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January recruit Wilfried Bony, who has made two appearances off the bench since his move from Swansea City, is also in line to make his first start and could be the strike partner for Sergio Agüero in a two-man attacking line.
For Liverpool, Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho will return to the starting lineup after he was rested for the Europa League defeat at Besiktas in midweek.
However, fellow midfielder and stand-in captain Jordan Henderson faces a late fitness test on his ankle to see if he is able to play any part in the game.
Striker Mario Balotelli is set to return to the substitutes bench, with Daniel Sturridge set to play through the middle in the attack.
Full-back Glen Johnson has recovered from illness and has been named in the squad.
“Coutinho will be fine. But the rest will be as it was really,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said.
“We’ll assess one or two of the boys that have been out, like Jordan Henderson. We’ll have a look at Jordan and see how he is.”
Looking For A Quick Bounce-Back
Both Manchester City and Liverpool are coming off defeats in Europe and will want to bounce back with a win in the domestic competition.
Victory for the defending champions at Anfield would see Pellegrini’s side moving within two points of Chelsea in the EPL standings.
Liverpool, meanwhile, could leap frog Southampton into fifth-place as their push for Champions League football continues.
“If we arrive in the top four this season, with everything we have been through, it will be a greater achievement than last year, absolutely,” said Rodgers.
“What we did last year was an incredible story, but we were basically only playing one game a week.
“This season we have been playing in Europe, with virtually a new team and a new system. We took time to adapt to a lot of new players coming in, particularly as many of them were young players.
“It wasn’t a group that stayed together and just made a couple of additions, like Chelsea, for us it was near enough a new team again.”
Rodgers is hoping that the pace of Sturridge and Raheem Sterling and the skills of Coutinho can disturb a Manchester City backline, which isn’t as stable with captain and leading center-back Vincent Kompany still struggling to find his best form this season.
Look for goals in this contest on Sunday, as the last half-a-dozen matchups between these two clubs have produced 20 goals.
According to the stats gurus, Manchester City have failed to secure a victory in any of their last 11 English Premier League trips to Anfield — losing seven and drawing four.
“These games are always very good games,” Rodgers told reporters. “Manchester City are a top-class side with some very good players.
“In my time here we’ve had some great games with them.
“We’re hoping we can take the confidence that we’ve had in recent months into this game and, with the quality of the players that we have, get a good result.”
Manchester City haven’t won at Anfield since May 2003 when they managed to seal a 2-1 comeback victory and full-back Pablo Zabaleta is hoping the Citizens can finally end that dismal run in this visit.
“It’s always been a tough place for us to go but hopefully we can get the three points we need and take advantage of Chelsea playing in the Capital One Cup final,” Zabaleta said.
“We have been strong away from home all season and we must continue that form until the end of the season.”