Five topics of discussion ahead of Sunday's game with Liverpool...
1 How will City react?
Wednesday’s crushing defeat to Monaco was a bitter pill to swallow, so how will the Blues react?
Not matter how patchy Liverpool’s form has been since the 1-0 defeat City suffered at Anfield, they are probably one of the last teams Pep Guardiola would have wanted to face this Sunday.
The Reds have an enviable record against teams from the top six and are yet to lose this season, whereas City have lost to Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool this campaign.
It’s a fair bet Jurgen Klopp will have his team motivated and ready to rub salt into the Blues’ wounds, so expect the visitors to race out of the blocks and press high as they bid to repeat last season’s resounding win at the Etihad.
2 Yaya return?
An unused sub during the week, City fans will hope Yaya Toure is back in the starting XI on Sunday,
It’s testament to the Ivorian’s excellent season that has once again become integral to the team and has been outstanding over the past four months.
The Blues lacked presence in the first half against Monaco and that allowed the French side to gain a grip on the game that they never let go.
Liverpool may look to try and replicate the Monaco style on Sunday, but if Yaya is playing, that’s unlikely to happen.
3 Top four battle
City know they are in a scrap for a top four finish his season so a win against Liverpool is imperative, particularly with games against Chelsea and Arsenal to come straight after the international break.
Anything but a win will reinvigorate Liverpool, Arsenal and United’s quest to overhaul the Blues and secure Champions League football.
Of course, City are only looking up and will want to overtake Tottenham and move second rather than worry about what’s happening in the chasing pack – so as long as it is mathematically possible, the Blues will continue to believe it is possible to catch Chelsea – and with one less competition to worry about this season, expect City to have a good tilt at eating away the leaders’ 10-point gap.
4 Raheem to shine?
Raheem Sterling would be the first to admit his first three Premier League games against Liverpool since he left Anfield have not been memorable by his own lofty standards.
City have lost 4-1, 3-0 and 1-0 during that time – though there was a Capital One Cup triumph over the Reds – and Sterling had fairly quiet games.
Undoubtedly the reaction of the Liverpool fans must have been unsettling, but he is flying now and will look to continue his excellent season against his former employers as well as putting a dent in their Champions League aspirations.
5 Pivotal Premier League run
Liverpool at home then Chelsea and Arsenal away -in succession - means that the Blues can’t dwell in the midweek loss to Monaco for too long.
The fixture planners have given the Blues a run of games that will test the mettle of Pep Guardiola’s side.
Should City take maximum points from these three games, the gap to Chelsea will close and the belief that the sprint to be first of the finish line can still yield the Premier League title – but it’s a big ask for any side given the quality of the opposition.
One thing is for sure, if there’s one team capable of winning these games, it’s City.