Manchester City host Liverpool on Saturday in the Premier League’s headline clash of the weekend. With both sides eyeing the title and improvement on last season as a bare minimum, Saturday’s meet at the Etihad Stadium could go a long way to determining the final standings come the end of May. It’s also become a bit of a classic in its own right in recent years, especially after both sides raced for the title during the 2013/14 season. So what do past meetings tell us about the coming instalment this Saturday? With the Premier League’s anniversary in mind, FootballFanCast takes a look back at the last 25 years of Manchester City versus Liverpool in the top flight.
Having rarely ventured far from the status of mediocre mid-tablers until the Sheik takeover in 2008, Liverpool’s dominance over Manchester City throughout the Premier League era shouldn’t come as a surprise. Indeed, the Reds vastly outshine the Citizens in terms of wins, goals scored, games failed to score in and even red cards. What may be more surprising, however, is how Liverpool have largely maintained that dominance in the nine years since. During that time, City have only beaten the Anfield outfit four times in the Premier League compared to Liverpool’s six wins, including four victories from their last five meetings. Despite City’s enormous outlay on players under the current ownership, some things never change.
Down the Premier League years, no player has scored more goals in this fixture than Liverpool legend Ian Rush, who produced eight goals in eight games – albeit only winning three of them. All of those goals came during the first four seasons of the Premier League, most notably a brace during a 6-0 demolition at Anfield when the Reds were chasing the title and City were fighting for their lives in 20th place. But perhaps more curiously, two of the top five goalscorers in this fixture could both feature this weekend; Sergio Aguero has bagged five goals against the Reds, while Philippe Coutinho has netted past City four times.
Brendan Rodgers’ side had unexpectedly emerged from the chasing pack to become genuine contenders in a title race many assumed Manchester City would dominate from the start to the finish of the 2013/14 season, fuelled by the potent strike partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. In fact, by the time City travelled to Anfield in April, poignantly falling on the anniversary week of Hillsborough, it was the Reds in pole position and the visitors lagging two places behind. This was Liverpool’s chance to make themselves favourites for the final run-in and the Merseysiders took it emphatically, scoring twice through Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel to lead with two clear goals at the interval. Manuel Pellegrini’s boys hit back in the second half, drawing level through David Silva and a Glen Johnson own goal, but it was the Reds who eventually emerged victorious as Philippe Coutinho popped up from midfield to net a delicious, low shot on the swivel in the 78th minute. The final whistle soon blew, but then came those fateful words from Steven Gerrard – ‘This does not slip’.
Plenty have plied their trade with both clubs down the years, ranging from Steve McManaman to Mario Balotelli with Daniel Sturridge and David James somewhere in between. But it’s still hard to look past the cultiest of cult heroes, James Milner, whose servitude to City saw him make over 200 appearances across all competitions and feature in a variety of roles spanning defensive midfield to emergency centre-forward. After winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup, Milner left for Anfield on a free transfer in summer 2015. He’s since been fielded as a winger, a midfielder and a full-back by the Reds, become their designated penalty taker and worn the captain’s armband for sustained periods in the absence of Jordan Henderson. This weekend, however, the former England international will likely have to settle for watching from the bench.