Why injury hit Liverpool hoping for a change of record against Manchester City
They say records are there to be broken and in football, you never know when your luck might change. Just ask Jose Mourinho, who last weekend wouldn't have expected Sporting Gijon to be the team to have ended his impeccable home league form record. After 151 games without defeat, in four different leagues facing the likes of Benfica, Manchester United and Milan, Mourinho's home dominance came to a halt against a side just above the relegation zone as the self proclaimed 'Special One' lost his first home league game since 2002.
The same year then, that Liverpool started their perfect record against West Bromwich Albion, their Premier League whipping boys. Perfect because they had won every game. Perfect because they had never conceded a goal. But, just like Mourinho's misery in Madrid, Saturday April 2nd saw both of them particular records end. Of course, The former Chelsea boss's run is a far greater achievement as it lasted over 150 games compared to a run of only nine, but still an impressive sequence of results came to a sorry end at The Hawthorns, after it started so well.
Now Sotirios Kyrgiakos is a bit of a cult hero and has earned that status despite a shaky start at the club. His aerial ability is his major strength and he has been an unlikely yet able deputy of late, but his heading doesn't count for anything when faced with pace. The big Greek recently gave away a silly penalty in Braga, which turned out to be the tie deciding moment and once again he was woefully exposed, this time by the speed of Peter Odemwingie. Everytime the impressive Nigerian ran, Kyrgiakos panicked, eventually forcing him to make a rash tackle for the first penalty and a clumsy mistake for the second. Both spot kicks were powerfully dispatched by Chris Brunt as Roy Hodgson got his first home league win for Albion in the same fixture of his first home league win for Liverpool, in the same season. That surely must be a first but Hodgon's record of serving the shortest managerial term in charge at Anfield will be what he will be remembered for most.
After the disappointment of losing last weekend to a relegation candidate, Liverpool will need to improve their game if they are to take anything from a Manchester City side who look set for the Champions League. This seasons form suggests the reds are capable of that as the tougher the opposition, the better the performance; particularly at Anfield as Chelsea and Manchester United have left with nothing, whilst a last minute Pepe Reina own goal gave Arsenal an undeserved point on the opening day.
Although a game against City would be difficult in any circumstance, the injuries that Liverpool have suffered in defence will no doubt make the task even harder. Both full back positions were occupied by centre halves after Johnsons injury last week but at least Kenny Dalglish will have Fabio Aurelio to call upon after his latest setback. Youngster's Jack Robinson and John Flanagan have been training with the first team but it's unlikely they will be thrown in against the likes of David Silva and Adam Johnson.
With Steven Gerrard ruled out for the season it will be interesting to see if Dalglish sticks with Jay Spearing in the middle or decides to give Joe Cole a run in the team, with Raul Meireles moving inside. Cole, written off by many after a terribly disappointing season, will be eager to get a run in the side after a nightmare season and him finding any sort of form would be a silver lining to the cloud of Gerrard's injury.
With Liverpool facing up to a season without Europe for the first time since 1999, they know that only a win will do if the slim chances of fifth position are to remain alive. City have left L4 with a point on their last two visits and convincingly won 3-0 at Eastlands back in August. Add to that the fact that the reds have failed to score the last two times these sides have met in Grand National week, in 2005 and 2007, then Liverpool will be hoping that it will be their turn for a change of record.