Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says his side head to the Etihad on Boxing Day full of confidence as they look to become the first side to take points off Manchester City on their own turf this season.
Liverpool head into the contest on the back of four successive Premier League wins by an incredible aggregate score of 17-3. They topped the table at Christmas, although with City just a point back Rodgers knows his side face a serious challenge.
"Our idea is to play an aggressive, attacking game -- and that is how they play also,” he told Liverpool’s official website.
"We'll take big confidence into the game because in the two games last season, we were the better side and didn't get the results to match the performance level because we made mistakes in the games that cost us.
"We know it's a big task, they've beaten a lot of good teams this year, but we have the confidence and belief we can go anywhere and, with the nature of our game, hopefully we can go and put in a good performance.”
It could be a pivotal week in determining Liverpool’s title credentials with a trip to Stamford Bridge to take on fellow contenders Chelsea up next on Sunday. If Liverpool are to emerge from those two heavyweight clashes still on top of the pile then Luis Suarez is likely to have to continue his recent incredible run of form. The Uruguayan has scored 10 goals in his last four matches to leave him on 19 goals in just 12 Premier League matches.
Liverpool will have to negotiate the fixtures without Steven Gerrard, Jose Enrique and Daniel Sturridge, however, with the trio all still ruled out. Jon Flanagan is the only new fitness concern and will be assessed before Thursday’s encounter.
Manchester City have been in similarly fine form to their opponents in recent weeks. Manuel Pellegrini’s men have taken 19 points from their last 21 available, with their only dropped points coming from a credible draw at Southampton. They have also been firing in the goals, having put six past Arsenal and, last week, four at Fulham.
City now lie in third place in an increasingly congested Premier League, and Pellegrini is expecting it to remain that way right until the end, regardless of what happens on Boxing Day.
"We are just finishing the first half of the Premier League,” Pellegrini said, according to Manchester City’s official website. “There are two more games left but this league is not only about Liverpool and Manchester City. Five or six teams will fight to the end.
Like Liverpool, City will also be missing their inspirational forward with Sergio Aguero still on the sidelines. Defensive trio Pablo Zabaleta, Matija Nastasic and Micah Richards all still ruled out. Montenegrin forward Stevan Joveitc remains a doubt.
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick off from the Etihad at 12.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBCSN, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.