Mens Team

Wright-Phillips: What it takes to win at Anfield

Wright-Phillips: What it takes to win at Anfield
It’s safe to say Anfield has not proven to be a happy hunting ground for City in recent years.

The Premier League Champions have emerged victorious from Merseyside’s Red domain just twice since 1956 – a 3-1 win in 1981 and a 2-1 triumph in May 2003.

More than 16 years have passed since that latter success – a last-gasp comeback win, courtesy of a thrilling Nicolas Anelka double against his former club – and the rarity of that victory lives long in the memory of the City fans who witnessed it.

READ: Liverpool v City | Five great Anfield moments

WATCH: Aguero was born scoring goals!

Those who tasted glory on the Anfield stage that day remember it well. One man who played a key role in the victory was fans’ favourite Shaun Wright-Phillips, as the midfield maestro provided the injury-time assist for Anelka’s stunning winner in a team move City’s current crop would have been proud of!

So, what does it take for a City team to win at Liverpool? According to SWP, a lot of heart, courage and valuable experience.

“I always say Anfield is one of the best places to play but also one of toughest,” he told, “with the fans, and the fact Liverpool always seem to have a strong squad, especially at home.

“I remember that game in 2003 very well. To get one over on them and win there was an achievement in itself!

“The goalscorer being Nicolas Anelka (who used to play for Liverpool) and us also having Robbie Fowler in the team as well… maybe that was the reason we managed to get it.

“Peter Schmeichel had a worldie, too – he had one of those every now and again, the old man!

“To be honest, I didn’t think too much about the assist – the way it came to me, it was just about playing it on, but Nico still had a lot to do to be fair to put it in the back of the net.

“I suppose I can see Pep liking that goal!”

With City under the cosh for much of that victory, Wright-Phillips also highlighted the importance of being clinical when chances do arrive.

“For me, it will come down to if the boys take their chances, especially Sergio Aguero," he said. "Look at his record – if it continues on Sunday, I don’t think we’ll have much of a problem as long as we keep them out.

“Their attacking line is very good – their front three work very well together. Even if Firmino doesn’t score, he’s so vital to their moves going forward.

“For City, I think Raheem Sterling, David Silva (if he plays) and Kevin De Bruyne could be key.

“I know some people say Raheem has found it difficult at Anfield when he's played there for us – I wouldn't say that exactly – but he’s playing against people that know him well. It’s hard to explain…

“When you come up against someone who knows you inside and out, some players feel like they have to change their game. Maybe he should just play as they know him if that makes sense.

“In terms of leaders, I also feel Fernandinho is going to be big for City on Sunday.

“He always plays well but if he plays to his maximum potential, people will rub off that and it will keep going through the team.

“Personally, I don’t think the players will have City's record at Anfield in their minds going into the game – they won’t be thinking: ‘We haven’t won here for so long.’

“The way Pep Guardiola has them playing, they go out trying to win every game.

“Both Pep and Jurgen Klopp are both very passionate managers – they very rarely sit down!

“When the team scores, it’s like they’re on the field as well. When something goes wrong, it’s the same feeling.

“The aura they both have rubs off on their teams – they’re made of winners.

“I always say: a lot of players’ passion starts from the manager and those two are the prime example.”

Billed as the biggest match of the year and a potential title decider – even in November! – this fixture has been on everyone’s lips since the calendar was released back in June.

There has been talk of the clash emulating the significance of the famed El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona; with high stakes, some of the world’s best players and two teams who produce sensational attacking football

Wright-Phillips – currently visiting Thailand on City's 2019 Trophy Tour – admits the encounter is now one of the most eagerly-awaited around the world.

“I totally agree with that,” he stated. “With the way both teams have been playing over the last two or three years, this is the game to win.

“Some people might say it’s a league decider but for me, the league won’t be won there on Sunday.

“Personally, I think the pressure is on Liverpool. They know that if they lose, the gap is smaller and that there could be a repeat of last year.

“They've had some games this season where they may not have come out with a point or a win. They’ve done so well because the team is so resilient and strong in the last 15 minutes – they’ve managed to find a way through at the end.

“That’s definitely the making of champions in a good team. Sunday’s game is a pitch of two champions and it’s all about who comes out on top.

“It’s important to remember though that there’s still a long season ahead – a lot of things can change in that time.

“I believe we can win, but Anfield is a hard place to go – I know that much!

"We’ll be watching the game in Thailand, as we’re hosting a watch party with the local fans. Kick-off is going to be at 11:30pm local time so it’s going to be a late one but I’m looking forward to it.

“Fingers crossed we win.”

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