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Blues facing sternest test yet?

PEP: Anfield test

PEP: Anfield test

City’s poor record at Anfield and more Alexis Sanchez rumours take up most of the column inches on the Blues this morning.

First off, we’ll focus on Sunday’s trip to Merseyside and what is likely to be the Blues’ toughest challenge of the campaign.

Sky Sports pick up on our wretched form away to Liverpool over the years as they report: “City have not won at Anfield in the Premier League for nearly 15 years - bad news for the league leaders ahead of their trip to Liverpool, live on Sky Sports this Sunday.

“City have lost 14 of their 20 meetings at Liverpool during the modern top-flight era, snatching their sole victory with a 2-1 win in May 2003 - when current City winger Leroy Sane was just seven years old.

“During that period, the Manchester club suffered their heaviest defeat against the Reds in October 1995 when Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler notched two apiece, while Jamie Redknapp and Neil Ruddock completed a 6-0 rout.”

 

RECORD BREAKER: Sergio Aguero celebrates his 124th Premier League goal

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City v Liverpool: Extended highlights

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Meanwhile, The Sport Review pick up on pundit Tony Gale’s prediction that the Reds will be in City’s faces and try to force errors this weekend.

They write:“Former West Ham defender Gale is backing Liverpool FC to cause Manchester City plenty of problems in their top-four clash at Anfield at the weekend.

‘Liverpool will press Manchester City like they’ve never been pressed,’ Gale told Sky Sports News on Wednesday morning.

‘It will be high-octane stuff and if anyone’s going to do it [beat City] it’s going to be Liverpool, because there have been signs that City, that under the press – particularly the centre-backs – you can nick the ball off them. That will be Liverpool’s plan.

‘They’ll try and play this game at 100 miles an hour and at the same time have the composure to go on and make chances themselves.

‘It’s a great game in store. This is one of the few games I think will be super stuff. It’s not going to be 0-0 in a month of Sundays.’

And The London Evening Standard report Liverpool have received a double striker lift ahead of the game as they report: “Mohamed Salah and Daniel Sturridge handed Jurgen Klopp a fitness boost for Liverpool's Premier League clash with leaders Manchester City as both forwards trained on Wednesday.

“Salah, the Reds' top scorer with 23 goals in all competitions this season, has missed the last two matches because of a groin problem.

“Sturridge has not been involved in a game since the Champions League victory over Spartak Moscow on December 6 having suffered with illness and injury.

“Liverpool announced on their website on Wednesday that the pair had taken part in a session earlier in the day at Melwood.

“Sunday's encounter with City at Anfield will be fourth-placed Liverpool's first match since the departure of Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona.”

Backtracking a little to Tuesday and The Bristol Post carry an opinion piece from Sky Sports’ Michelle Owen, with the Robins fan and presenter saying she feels the tie is still finely balanced...

“It will have felt raw and gutting last night, but now the Robins should look back and reflect how they went toe to toe with possibly the best side in the world right now.

 

 

“Manchester City are on a par with the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, of course, two of Pep Guardiola’s previous sides.

“Bristol City took them all the way and deserved to come away with a draw. I firmly believe with a little luck, another amazing atmosphere and composure that these men are capable of beating Manchester City and overturning the deficit. Bristol City's magnificent display at Man City in focus as they keep Wembley dream alive

“Pep Guardiola now knows what to expect at Ashton Gate. This is a Bristol City side that will not hide, not shy away from the challenge.

“They will press, force mistakes and not sit back. Unfortunately, the downside of the high press is the gaps that open up.

“Ultimately, that is how Kevin De Bruyne scored the equaliser.”

Finally, The Independent’s Mark Critchley has written an opinion piece of City’s reported interest in Alexis Sanchez.

He believes the Blues do not need to buy the Chilean to ensure success this season, but given the quality of the Arsenal forward and the cut-price transfer fee he may now be available at, a move to the Etihad would make perfect sense.

He writes: “The depth that signing Sanchez would provide will also apply to European competition, as the Chilean will be eligible to play in the Champions League if he signs this January, despite his participation in Arsenal’s Europa League campaign.

“After a favourable knock-out phase draw that saw tough ties for fellow contenders as well as a favourable one for City against Basel, the Etihad hierarchy have the chance to draft in an elite talent at a cut-price to help achieve a short-term objective.

“The European Cup that this club craves in order to establish itself among the continent’s elite will be likelier with Sanchez in tow. Given the relatively low costs involved for a player of his talent, it makes sense to move now.”

And that’s all for today…

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ON TARGET: Kevin De Bruyne makes no mistake and finds the corner through a wall of Bristol City bodies.

Kevin De Bruyne has echoed Pep Guardiola’s praise for Bristol City’s attacking endeavours in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.

The Belgian midfielder has added his name to the list of those who enjoyed the Championship side’s approach.