Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes champions Manchester City head into the new Premier League season as favorites to claim the title. However, the Northern Irishman is relishing the challenge of his side matching up against Manuel Pellegrini’s men in just the second match of the campaign as well as in a sneak preview on Wednesday. The sides that finished first and second in the Premier League last season will meet at Yankee Stadium in New York City as part of their preseason tours and the International Champions Cup.
“I'm not too bothered about when we play them,” he said, according to Liverpool’s official website. “You have to play every team twice, that's the reality. For us, we're happy to play them at the beginning of the season. We're playing in this tournament [International Champions Cup] and there are really good teams in it.
“When you're the champions, you rightly go into the next season as the favorites. They were the champions last year, the most consistent team - they pipped us by a couple of points -- so they will be the benchmark for next season.”
Liverpool kicked off the competition with a 1-0 victory over Greek champions Olympiakos in Chicago on Sunday, following on from their 1-0 defeat to Roma in Boston a week ago. The last time the Reds went up against Manchester City it was one of the most emotional days in the club’s recent history. With the Anfield crowd marking the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, a late goal gave Liverpool a 3-2 win that put them in the driving seat to claim a first championship since 1990 with four matches remaining.
Agonizingly it was not to be, with dropped points against Chelsea and Crystal Palace allowing City’s late surge to give them a second title in three years. Yet Rodgers has dismissed the idea of there being any gloom around Anfield and has instead focused on the fact that Liverpool still achieved their main objective of a return to the Champions League. For that challenge, Rodgers has already added Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Emre Can, Dejan Lovren and Lazar Markovic to his squad. Neither Lallana nor Lovren will feature against City, however, with the former facing a race to be fit for the new season on August 17 after suffering a knee injury and the latter failing to get a visa in time to travel to the U.S. following his move from Southampton at the weekend.
Manchester City have added just former Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna and Brazilian midfielder Fernando to their ranks. But one man hoping to prove like a new signing this season is Stevan Jovetić. The Montenegrin forward arrived from Fiorentina last summer but was plagued by injuries, particularly early on, which rendered his contribution to City’s season minimal. After scoring twice in City’s first match of the International Champions Cup -- a 5-1 win over AC Milan -- the 24-year-old explained that he is confident of proving his worth in the coming months.
“I hope the fans are going to see a lot of things from me,” he said, according to ESPN. “Last year I think I played well when I was fit. This year hopefully when I have a good preparation with the team it's going to be a different story. I have his confidence and I'm going to do everything I can on the pitch to repay that and show I deserve to play.”
Where to watch: The International Champions Cup match will kick off from Yankee Stadium at 7.10 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 1 and ESPN Deportes, with live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go and Watch ESPN.