An extra long week for Liverpool after last Sunday's win over Southampton, but one that's afforded extra time for rest and recuperation for a squad that didn't make it entirely unscathed through the preseason. At this point there's only a few names missing until Brendan Rodgers has a side at full strength, and with at least one more signing on its way in the coming days, the third-year manager is going to have his deepest squad yet.
Like last season, Liverpool face the reigning champions in an early-season fixture, only this time around it's not a shambles of a squad and an incompetent manager, and Liverpool aren't coming off another disappointing finish in league that left them far off the pace for both the title and Champions League qualification. Also this one isn't at Anfield.
While it's not quite as important as the rest of the context, that it comes at the Etihad is important given Manchester City's form there last season--the champions were terrific at home, dropping points in only two fixtures at home and sweeping aside their visitors with ease. They started their 2014-2015 season at St. James Park, where they eventually eased past Newcastle with a 2-0 victory.
Manuel Pellegrini will have only Eliaquim Mangala and Alvaro Negredo missing tomorrow night; Pablo Zabaleta should be ready after arriving late due to Argentina's participation in the World Cup final, and Sergio Aguero already got in on the fun with a goal against Newcastle as a second-half substitute. Pellegrini started with two up top in Eden Dzeko and Stefan Jovetic, with Samir Nasri, Fernando, Yaya Toure, and David Silva in the midfield, and Gael Clichy, Vincent Kompany, Martin Dimichelis, and Aleksander Kolarov in defense ahead of Joe Hart in goal.
Manquillo Skrtel Lovren Johnson
Sterling Sturridge Coutinho
Rodgers' update the other day clued us in that tomorrow comes too soon for Adam Lallana, Daniel Agger, and Jon Flanagan, with Jose Enrique also in doubt due to an unspecified injury. Emre Can isn't 100% fit but should still be in the squad, and Lazar Markovic is healthy to join Alberto Moreno in the squad for the first time.
There isn't any reason to believe that Rodgers will shake the squad up too much; at least eight or nine of the names in the starting eleven is nailed on, with Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho, and Raheem Sterling set to lead the side going forward, Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson featuring in the midfield (or, in the case of Henderson, pushed further forward on the right), and Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren in central defense with Simon Mignolet in goal.
That leaves the third midfielder and the fullback to be settled, and the names won't be entirely surprising. It's either Joe Allen, Lucas, or Emre Can to go with Henderson and Gerrard, and between Lucas' performance last weekend and Can's lack of match fitness, it seems that Allen is the safest bet. His display after coming on against Southampton certainly warrants more minutes.
And while it's tempting to include Moreno straightaway, I don't know that Rodgers does so, which leaves us with Javier Manquillo on the right and Glen Johnson on the left. The former was solid last Sunday, impressing in his Liverpool debut, but the latter continued to struggle, and the sooner Moreno challenges the better.
Kickoff is set for 8:00PM BST/3:00PM EST, with Sky Sports 1 carrying coverage in the UK and NBCSN/NBC Sports Live Extra airing the match live in the US. Our coverage will start with the overnight open thread tonight and carry into the matchday post early tomorrow, which will have team sheets an hour before kickoff. Hope you'll be around to join us--if you haven't already, sign up for an SBNation profile and stick around.