So much to play for...

Welcome to our third digital matchday programme as we prepare to host Liverpool this evening. ..

Here we are again, already the third home game of the behind closed doors era and our fifth match in 17 days.The standard of City's football has been fantastic and the games so far have been exciting and energetic, which is a credit to the players, coaching staff and medical team.

Tonight, we face Liverpool who were crowned Premier League champions after our 2-1 loss at Chelsea.Both teams will want to win this game and prove a point, so it should be a fascinating contest.In this edition, we've got Pep's manager notes along with a detailed focus on Liverpool.

We also have a stat feature on Kevin De Bruyne, a head-to-head comparison between Fernandinho and Fabinho and Shaun Goater's Dream Team.Plus, Kev Cummins shares his iconic photo-shoot from the englandneworder video, filmed at Liverpool's Melwood training ground and featuring John Barnes' rap.All the above plus , Marc Riley's column and plenty more.

Keep safe and enjoy the game.

MANAGER'S NOTES

Pep's thoughts ahead of tonight's game...

Good evening everyone and a warm welcome to the Etihad Stadium to Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool team.

We congratulate them on their Premier League title. They played an extraordinary season and they are deserved champions.

The campaign is not over, however, and having won two trophies already, we are still fighting as hard as we are able for two more.

I was delighted with the way we bounced back from the defeat at Chelsea last Thursday to win at Newcastle on Sunday and reach the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal in just more than two weeks’ time.

Wembley will not be the same without our fans there with us, but we will hope to make the best of it and reach another cup final...

At Newcastle, we moved the ball well, created space, and we took our chances when they came. Apart from one scoring chance for the home side had, I thought we controlled the game very well and in a confident manner.

It was an important victory. We have won eight out of the last ten domestic titles on offer and as the holders of the FA Cup we now want to go on and make that 9.

There is also Champions League to look forward to, so there is still so much to play for this season.  The great thing with these players is that their hunger for more is always there. The numbers speak for themselves over the past seasons. We are delighted to be going back to London for the semi-final.

I believe that the best possible way to return to action in the UCL in August would be to win the FA Cup and finish in the top four of the Premier League.Pep Guardiola

No one here at City ever thought we could win the Premier League every year - that is not possible for any team - but our record over the last three years is incredible and something of which we, and City fans, can be very proud. Winning eight out of 10 competitions has never happened before in this country.

It is true we didn’t show enough consistency in the league this season. Liverpool, after winning the Champions League and not winning the Premier League for 30 years, played with incredible focus as if it was the last chance they had but, as I said, we cannot forget that we won already won two titles this season and we still have two more to play for.

We have to take a little bit of perspective, be humble and say we can’t win all the time and at the same time we have to learn and develop and make sure we are challenging again for the title next season.

Stay safe everyone.

THE BUZZWORD

Club Ambassador Mike Summerbee's column...

First off, let’s congratulate Liverpool on winning the Premier League title.

Nobody could argue they don’t deserve it and they’ve been incredibly consistent this season from start to the present. They’ve had no major injuries which has been a massive help, and our defeat at Chelsea confirmed what we already knew was going to happen.

The game at Stamford Bridge was the most exciting behind closed doors game I’d seen so far and could have gone either way, but Frank Lampard has got Chelsea playing very well.

I keep reading in the papers that this will be the start of a period of dominance for Liverpool, but I can’t see that being the case with City, United, Chelsea and other clubs in the mix and looking strong – they’ll be looking over their shoulders, I’m certain of that.

It should be an interesting game and like all the games we take part in, one that we will want to win. We still need a couple of wins to take the runners-up spot and the sooner we can do that, the better.

I thought we were exceptional against Newcastle United on Sunday because it is never an easy place to play. Our approach was outstanding - as it always is – and we thoroughly deserved the victory and a place in the FA Cup semi-final.

I’m sure people will be talking about the possibility of a City v United final, but I’d like to say this: first, can we get over the sizeable hurdle of Arsenal?
Mike Summerbee

We have to beat them and United have to beat Chelsea and both matches will be really close, so let’s focus on the semi and not what might happen.

The fact it is a chance to progress to the FA Cup final is incentive enough and in my playing days, featuring in the 1969 cup final remains the highlight of my club career.

It was a blow to lose Sergio Aguero – maybe for the rest of the season – but Gabriel Jesus will take the responsibility and do us proud. I think he is a terrific talent and you have to be a special player to lead the front line for Brazil.

He never gives less than 100% and makes things happen whenever he plays and I think he’s just going to get better and better.

That’s all from me – enjoy the game and I’ll be back for our home game with Newcastle United next week.

Until then, take care and keep safe.

HERE’S TO BRIGHT BLUE SKIES …

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Your wellness, our priority

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Using clever, self-scan technology, optimised seat maps and new queuing systems, we’ve limited touchpoints and made sure there’s more space between you and other guests at all times.

We’ve introduced additional deep cleaning at Abu Dhabi airport and on board, focusing on the surfaces that are touched most often. That includes our check-in counters, toilets, seats, and entertainment screens, so you can feel comfortable knowing that we disinfect every touchpoint of your journey more regularly.

All of our aircraft are cleaned and sanitised every time they reach their destination, and because we know that cleaner air means cleaner cabins, our filters onboard remove 99% of microbes and regularly refresh the cabin’s air.

And for even more peace of mind, we’ve also introduced a team of Etihad Wellness Ambassadors. They’ll share advice, answer your questions and make sure you’re up to date with the latest regulations and guidelines for when you arrive at your destination.

Visit etihad.com/wellness to discover more.

We’re here for you 24/7

Our dedicated team of Wellness Ambassadors are available 24/7, so you can rest assured there’ll always be someone available to help. Chat to our Wellness Ambassadors online, meet them at the airport or speak to them on board – they’ll be with you at every step to make sure your journey is as comfortable as possible.

Freedom to fly when you’re ready

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OUR OPPONENTS

Thirty years was a long time to be without something that set Liverpool apart as champion of champions with 18 Division One titles.

From 1964 they were No 1 in 13 of 27 seasons, the template set by Bill Shankly (1964, 1966 and 1973) and expanded by Bob Paisley (1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982 and 1983), Joe Fagan (1984) and Kenny Dalglish (1986, 1988 and 1990).

Two years later came the Premier League – and then nothing.

There were times when a breakthrough was not far away – they were runners-up four times - and there were still big moments on the biggest stage as the teams of Rafa Benitez and Jurgen Klopp triumphed in Champions League finals.

All this goes some way towards explaining why winning the Premier League became something of an obsession. A driving force through last year’s epic struggle, which was won by City on the last day, and again in this season’s march towards the ultimate prize.

It was secured with seven games to spare and a new generation of supporters was able to celebrate with Klopp’s team as their grandparents did with heroes of the past.

Klopp, in his fifth year at Anfield, has successfully transferred a dynamic brand from one country to another. A Champions League finalist with Borussia Dortmund, he has already gone one step further by winning that trophy with Liverpool. Now he will aim to equal or surpass two Bundesliga titles with Dortmund - though City will have a say in that.

A young squad unseated Bayern Munich in 2011 and retained their crown as Robert Lewandowski scored 22 goals in 34 league games.

There are similarities with the Liverpool side that sat on a 25-point lead in the Premier League during the coronavirus shutdown.

There is youth in the side – the regular starters are all under 30 – and goals are plentiful. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino scored 160 between them in two seasons. International-level cover is provided by Divock Origi.

Salah won the Golden Boot in 2018 and shared it with Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last year. With his goal against Bournemouth in March, he became the first Liverpool player since Michael Owen to score 20 or more for a third successive season.

Under Klopp, Liverpool have created a new defence. Alisson took over as No 1 keeper, starting with 21 clean sheets to win the Premier League Golden Glove last season, and Virgil van Dijk, Ballon d’Or runner-up and UEFA Player of the Year last season, became the central figure in the back line. Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez have all partnered van Dijk.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, are the regular full-backs, both noted for attacking instincts, while midfield is built around two signings from the North-East, the captain, Jordan Henderson, from Sunderland, and Dutch international, Georginio Wijnaldum, from Newcastle.

This department is rich in international alternatives with Fabinho, James Milner (now fifth on Premier League appearances list), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, Adam Lallana, Xherdan Shaqiri and January signing, Takumi Minamino.

CITY V LIVERPOOL

THE STORY SO FAR


Not always a fixture we've looked forward to... our 124-year history against Liverpool

The first eight meetings between Liverpool and Manchester City gave an indication of what was to not always be the most level of playing fields between the clubs.

Liverpool beat City 3-1 in January 1896 and would win seven of the first eight meetings, drawing the other. In fact, a 3-2 triumph for City at Hyde Road in 1903 was our only victory in the first 11 clashes with the Reds, but a 1906 win at Anfield would spark a better run of results as City won five of seven meetings up to 1909.

The next 15 meetings couldn’t have had better symmetry, with City and Liverpool each winning five games and the other five ending in draws.

Liverpool edged the 1920s with seven wins, three draws– including winning 1-0 in the first meeting at Maine Road – and suffering just five defeats. But City would end the decade with a record 6-1 win at Anfield – one of several thrashings the Blues would hand out to the Merseysiders over the next 10 years.

Between 1935 and 1937, City would win  6-0 and 5-0 at Maine Road and 5-1 at Anfield in successive meetings – an aggregate of 16-1 – in one of our best runs in this fixture, though Liverpool would largely dominate during the War League years between 1939 and 1945.

There would only be nine meetings in the 1950s including a first FA Cup clash that City edged after a replay, but the teams were often in different divisions and between 1954 and 1962 there was an eight-year gap between league meetings.

Towards the end of the 1960s, both City and Liverpool had strong squads under the leadership of Joe Mercer and Bill Shankly respectively, but only three out of 10 matches would end in City’s favour and from the 1970s on, Liverpool would completely dominate meetings.

The Reds would win 11 to City’s four with five matches drawn out of 20 meetings and an aggregate of 37-16 overall in Liverpool's favour. From 1974 to 1981, this would be a miserable fixture for City fans with the Reds winning 12, drawing two and losing just once – and it wouldn’t get much better during the 1980s.

There was a brief respite when City recorded an evermore elusive win at Anfield on Boxing Day 1981 – the 3-1 victory being our first success against the Merseysiders in their own backyard for 25 years – but this sandwiched in-between six successive thrashings at Maine Road that saw Liverpool score 20 goals and concede just two.

The 1980s saw 16 meetings resulting in 12 Liverpool wins, two draws and just two City victories. Though Liverpool had dominated much of the 1970s and 80s both domestically and in Europe, there was still a disproportionate leaning towards the Reds in this fixture and, disappointingly, the 1990s would see this trend continue, though the contests were largely more even affairs.

Of the 13 clashes, City lost five and drew six, winning a couple at Maine Road but none at Anfield where Alan Ball took his side twice in the space of four painful days in October 1995 and saw his team beaten 4-0 in the League Cup and 6-0 in the Premier League.

And from 2000 to 2010, City would win just two of 20 meetings – though at least one of those was a 2-1 win at Anfield that ended yet another lengthy period without success on the Reds’ home soil (22 years).

City fans waited for the tide to slowly turn – and from August 2010, it finally did.

City’s 3-0 win at the Etihad that season was the start of a much more productive decade – though still one that that saw no Anfield victories...

City would enjoy another 3-0 home success in 2012 and managed to avoid defeat at Anfield in five of six trips to Merseyside (five draws) and won home games in 2013 and 2014, with the latter year also seeing City pip the Reds to the title in a thrilling battle at the top.

In 2016, the clubs met at Wembley for the first time, with Willy Caballero the hero in a penalty shoot-out City won 3-1 to claim the League Cup to gain a bit more payback.

In 2017, City finally handed Liverpool a long overdue thrashing, winning 5-0 at the Etihad, though the Reds ended our long unbeaten run at Anfield later that campaign by winning 4-3 at Anfield.

Later that season, Liverpool would end City’s Champions League hopes, winning 5-1 on aggregate after a number of crucial decisions went against Pep Guardiola's men – but City would still cruise to the Premier League title that season.

And the 2018/19 campaign would see City hold Liverpool 0-0 at Anfield before edging a crucial 2-1 win at the Etihad as Pep Guardiola’s men hunted down Liverpool’s sizeable lead at the top of the table before finally claiming the title on the final day of the campaign.

And last August, City won another penalty shoot-out at Wembley to secure the FA Community Shield against Liverpool.

The 2019/20 season, however, finally went Liverpool’s way as Jurgen Klopp’s side ended a 30-year wait for the title.

It is a rivalry that looks set to continue well into the new decade, though thankfully on a much more even keel...

New order: world in motion

Renowned photographer and lifelong City fan Kevin Cummins has been celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Club with photos he's taken over the years...

Congratulations to Liverpool on their first ever Premier League title win. It’s 30 years since the Reds won their previous top division title, but perhaps it’s not as well known that two days prior to their final game that season, their Melwood training ground was being used for something even more seismic than training the champions. New Order, along with John Barnes were recording the video for their World Cup anthem 'World in Motion' - there. I was duly dispatched behind enemy lines for the NME to shoot a cover story.

I was determined not to use a red or white England shirt for my NME cover shot and it took me ages to find a replica third choice strip of sky blue – even the FA didn’t have one. I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass of getting a sky blue football shirt on our cover - and I eventually got one at a sports shop in London.  
Kev Cummins

I also managed to get John Barnes to wear a New Order “Touched by the Hand of God” T shirt - an oblique reference to Maradona in ’86 I felt … and Bernard wore the sky blue England shirt. Then, mid-way through the filming, Bernard disappeared only to reappear as Vegas era Elvis. When asked why,  he just said "I thought it’d work as an idea.”

He refused to take the rhinestone studded jumpsuit off - although he was talked into removing the Elvis wig - and for the rest of the shoot he remained dressed as Elvis. 

The record was an instant hit and became New Order’s only British chart-topping single.  The Fall’s Mark E Smith wasn’t as enamoured as the rest of the country, though. Upon reviewing it for the NME with The Farm’s Peter Hooton, he said, "It's pandering to the middle classes who've just discovered football. It's smug, self-congratulatory, a yuppie football song. If they'd won the World Cup then they could have come home and made a bloody record.

Hooton was similarly disenchanted saying “I know this. It's The Fall's official World Cup theme ... The Fall or New Order ... one of them old Manchester bands! To me, this is more embarrassing than your average tacky old football [song].

Last year's Tranmere Rovers song was better. They've made an effort to be serious and it sounds pathetic. The words are pathetic. I'd rather have Alan Ball singing 'Back Home'. When was the last time an England player ever expressed himself?” 

In the NME feature that ran with the photos, Bernard said of the song, “This should be the last straw for Joy Division fans.”

However the fact that both bands are still revered worldwide is proof that musicians don’t always understand why fans love them so much...

KC

DREAM TEAM: shaun goater

Club legend Shaun Goater selects his all-time City XI – find out who makes the cut below…

 Take it away, Goat…

"I can’t see far past the class of 2018/19.

"The team that won the title back-to-back was a joy to watch – as is the team of this season -though things haven’t quite gone our way this year.

"Ederson is a fantastic keeper and I’d go for Kyle Walker at right-back and Oleks Zinchenko at left – he’s solid and steady and I really like him.

Vinnie and Laporte – that’s some central defensive pairing and I’d have Fernandinho just in front.
Shaun Goater

"My midfield is Yaya, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne – as good as any in the world.

"Then I’d have Raheem up front with Sergio – maybe Raheem dropping back to support the midfield as and  when.

"I make the bench so I can join in feeding time!  And there’s a few legends on there in Joe Hart, Ali Benarbia, Zaba and Andy Morrison.

"I love Joe Royle, but it would be Pep as the manager."

TALES FROM THE MARC SIDE

BBC 6 MUSIC DJ MARC RILEY'S SIDEWAYS TAKE ON LIFE...

Football supporters as we know, will happily ‘discuss’ (argue) anything football-related with other football fans.

It’s part of the whole experience of having an allegiance. More often than not it’s about the capabilities of one of their own players… or about a possibly contentious refereeing decision.

Though more trivial matters do raise their heads from time to time. For instance, I have a mate who gets very, very annoyed if the socks in a newly unveiled City strip don’t satisfy his sartorial needs.

These days, however, the topic of conversation seems to be focusing on one burning issue.

HIM: DO YOU WATCH  THE MATCHES WITH THE CROWD NOISE  ON OR OFF?

ME: On.

ON??? ON!?!

On.

IT SOUNDS RUBBISH WITH THE CROWD NOISE  ON!

On.

BUT THE CROWD NOISE IS TAKEN FROM A COMPUTER-GAME!!!!

On.

AND IT’S ALWAYS A COUPLE OF SECONDS  LATE!!!!!

On.

BUT WITH THE CROWD NOISE OFF YOU CAN  HEAR  PEOPLE USING BAD  LANGUAGE AT EACH OTHER - IT’S GREAT!

On.

Back in the ‘dark ages’ (the ‘Carrington training facility’ years) I was fortunate enough to know the chap who ran security there. If I ever fancied going to watch City at close quarters, I’d just tip-up, have a quick chat with said fella at the gate and off I’d go to watch us ‘train’. I don’t know quite how fruitful (or commonplace) this system is/was in those Keegan years, but the main cut and thrust of City’s training regime back then was, to put it simply, a game of 6-a-side. 

It wasn’t the most scientific of regimes as you can imagine, but it was great to watch! As a below average 5-a-side player myself I could relate very much to this process and I enjoyed very much being able to witness City play a mini-match in between ‘proper’ matches. 

For one brief moment, I began to think this might well be why I find myself watching the 'Lock-down Games with the crowd noise ON. Because I’ve seen and heard my heroes kicking a ball around in front of zero paying spectators whilst shouting fruity language at each other on many occasions. It’s nothing new to me!

But no Marc!!  That's not the real reason at all is it??

No Dr. Marc…it isn’t.

Having thought about it I have just now come to the conclusion that my decision to watch the games with the crowd noise ON has a more deep-rooted psychological reason than a simple matter of personal taste. I’ve come to the conclusion that becoming embroiled in a match where you can hear frustrations being vented really does take me back to the 1990s, but not to Carrington, rather to ‘Walton Park’ 5-a-side complex when the eerie silence of the combat was only broken by the echo of someone shouting a fiery, damning tirade of growing impatience at someone else on the pitch… that someone more often than not…being ME! 

THAT’S IT!  I  WATCH  THE MATCHES WITH THE CROWD NOISE ON BECAUSE I WAS RUBBISH AT FOOTBALL!!!!

I should be a psychiatrist!

Congratulations must go to Liverpool today who return to our place with their first ever Premier League title. Even Mr Klopp admitted to being mystified as to how LFC ended up so many points ahead of us…but the tally doesn’t lie! A remarkable and hugely impressive achievement…- and one we must make sure never happens again!

MR