Manchester, Feb 3: Injury to defenders could trouble Manchester City as they host Liverpool at the Etihad on Sunday. A very important as far as City are concerned after their rivals Manchester United went 10 points clear at the top.
Roberto Mancini will hope Matija Nastasic recovers from a knee injury to start against the Reds. The defending champions will have to rely on Javi Garcia at the back along side Joleon Lescott. City captain Vincent Kompany will be missed for three more weeks including right-back Maicon and Micah Richards.
Mario Balotelli's departure means Mancini will depend on Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero, who have only seven goals between them in the last nine games in all competitions.
Luis Suarez will be the key man for Liverpool as City's defence looks a bit shaky. The Uruguyan has moved into a much deeper role behind Daniel Sturridge and has scored eight in his last seven games.
City managed to draw 2-2 at Anfield during the start of the season but the champions do not have great record against the Reds, winning two games in their last 17 matches. But City thrashed Liverpool 3-0 in the corresponding fixture last season.
Brendan Rodgers's side are yet to beat a team above them in the league this season. The Reds drew against Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton but lost to Tottenham.
City will be already under pressure to close the gap on United but a Liverpool win put United in the driving seat to win the title.
Liverpool do not have any injury concerns as Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique and Pepe Reina are expected to retain their places in the playing XI.
*Liverpool have failed to score in their last three Premier League visits to the Etihad Stadium.
*Manchester City have scored 18 fewer league goals at this stage last season.
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Hart-Zabaleta, Lescott, Nastasic, Clichy-Garcia, Barry-Nasri, Tevez, Silva-Aguero.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Reina-Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Enrique-Henderson, Lucas, Gerrard-Downing, Sturridge, Suarez.