English Premiership

Preview: City v Liverpool

2014-08-21 12:31
Vincent Kompany (File)

London - The new Premier League season bursts into life this weekend with last season's top two, Manchester City and Liverpool, facing each other at Eastlands.

Just three points separated the two sides last term and having both notched wins on the opening weekend, City and Liverpool will be keen to maintain momentum on Monday night.

City captain Vincent Kompany warned Liverpool that they will find it harder to challenge for the title this season, with the Champions League also to focus on.

And the Belgian believes home advantage and a good start last weekend, 2-0 at Newcastle, means City will go into the Liverpool game with confidence.

"It's the first time for me that this home fixture comes so early in the season," he said.

"But if we can perform like we did at Newcastle, we will be hoping to get the three points at home. Newcastle was important for us because it takes a lot of pressure away from the Liverpool game.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini described the match as "a big game" and promised to prepare his team well but he knows he has to nurse his World Cup players back to full steam.

"It's normal that the guys who were at the World Cup are tired," he said after their victory at Newcastle.

"At the moment we have players who can't play 90 minutes but we were playing against a strong team like Newcastle in a tough place to go and the first clear chance they had was after 88 minutes."

Liverpool won their opener 2-1 against Southampton at Anfield last weekend and despite a scratchy performance, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet believes they will relish such a chance for an early crack at City.

"It's actually probably an easier game to go into than Southampton at home," he told the Liverpool Echo. "We didn't really know to expect from Southampton as they have a new manager and new players.

"But we know what the City game is going to be all about. It will be totally different. They have some top players and it will be a difficult game but we competed with them last season and hopefully we will get the three points.

"Last season we beat Stoke (on the opening weekend), won a tough game at (Aston) Villa and then beat Man United. We hope to build from a winning start again."

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has promised to keep Thibaut Courtois in goal for Saturday's clash with Leicester, despite rumours that Petr Cech will seek a move away from the club if he is not first choice.

Mourinho was delighted with the performance of Cesc Fabregas on his debut in the 3-1 win at promoted Burnley and expects him to repeat it against Leicester, also new boys, again from the centre of midfield.

"When a player is your first choice, it is very rare you make a mistake and Cesc was our first choice for that position," Mourinho said.

"For most of the last 10 years we have been in the same league, either in England or Spain, and at Barcelona he was playing all over the place - as a false nine, a nine, as the number 10 and as a winger.

"He knows better than me what his best position is and there he can bring other people in the right direction and for that I am really happy."

Arsenal also face a tough match with a trip to Everton while Tottenham take on QPR and Manchester United travel to Sunderland.

United manager Louis van Gaal suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat against Swansea in his first Premier League match in charge last weekend and they will be hoping to bounce back quickly.

New signing Marcos Rojo could go straight into the team at full-back and vice-captain Darren Fletcher said there were enough strong characters in the dressing room to be able to do just that.

"People talk about players that have left but I see it in the eyes of the young players," he said. "They're ready for it and determined to show how good they are and we're determined to show how good the team is."

Aston Villa face Newcastle, managerless Crystal Palace take on West Ham, Southampton host West Brom, Swansea meet Burnley and Hull take on Stoke in the weekend's other matches.


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