Liverpool to win 2-1 is 10/1 and Steven Gerrard to score the first goal 15/2. A scorecast with Gerrard to score first and Liverpool to win 2-1 is 40/1. Bet on

UEFA Champions League credentials come under the spotlight on Sunday when rivals Manchester City and Liverpool meet at Eastlands.

City have emerged as the favourites to push the Reds out of the traditional Big Four cartel and they currently occupy the all-important fourth place in the Premier League, while still holding a game in hand over their closest competitors.

This weekend’s fixture has therefore become vitally important to both teams and a victory either way could secure a significant advantage in the battle for a lucrative spot in next season’s European Cup.

It has also been speculated that the future of opposing managers Roberto Mancini, at City, and Liverpool’s Rafa Benitez could hang in the balance of a top-four finish.

Mancini made an impressive start to his career in England after succeeding Mark Hughes in December, but the Italian has won just two of his next six games and he has been forced to deny reports of a bust-up with Craig Bellamy.

The former Inter boss will not need to be told that his job is likely to be the subject of a meeting with City owner Sheikh Mansour at the end of the season if objectives set by the billionaire oil tycoon are not met.

Likewise Benitez at Liverpool. It is understood the Spaniard is set to discuss his future at Anfield at the end of a majorly disappointing campaign, which was encapsulated in Thursday’s uninspiring Europa League win over Unirea Urziceni.

City suffered from a player shortage in their league draw with 10-man Stoke on their last outing and they could again be struggling for the visit of Liverpool.

Carlos Tevez will not feature after returning to Argentina for family reasons, while Bellamy could feature against his former club after a recent absence due to his knee injury.

Patrick Vieira has been handed a three-match ban by the Football Association following his clash with Stoke’s Glenn Whelan, while Vincent Kompany undergoes a test on a groin problem.

Shaun Wright-Phillips and Stephen Ireland all suffered knocks in last weekend’s FA Cup draw with Stoke, but were among the substitutes in the midweek meeting with the Potters. Martin Petrov has been ruled out for up to a month with a knee injury.

Liverpool will still be without Fernando Torres and Glen Johnson due to injury, but Yossi Benayoun may feature after several weeks’ of recovery from a broken rib.

Maxi Rodriguez is likely to return after Albert Riera failed to impress when the Argentine was cup-tied against Unirea, while Emiliano Insua could replace Fabio Aurelio. Sotirios Kyrgiakos is suspended.

Manchester City: Given, Richards, Toure, Lescott, Garrido, De Jong, Ireland, Barry, A Johnson, Santa Cruz, Adebayor.

Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Insua, Lucas, Mascherano, Kuyt, Gerrard, Maxi, Ngog.

Paul Merson can’t see Burnley or Wigan upsetting the form book against Aston Villa and Spurs.

Peter Beagrie says Stuart McCall is still a Bradford legend, but is pleased to see Peter Taylor get the top job.

Read the article on Sky Sports

Man City v Liverpool preview

Liverpool to win 2-1 is 10/1 and Steven Gerrard to score the first goal 15/2. A scorecast with Gerrard to score first and Liverpool to win 2-1 is 40/1. Bet on

UEFA Champions League credentials come under the spotlight on Sunday when rivals Manchester City and Liverpool meet at Eastlands.

City have emerged as the favourites to push the Reds out of the traditional Big Four cartel and they currently occupy the all-important fourth place in the Premier League, while still holding a game in hand over their closest competitors.

This weekend’s fixture has therefore become vitally important to both teams and a victory either way could secure a significant advantage in the battle for a lucrative spot in next season’s European Cup.

It has also been speculated that the future of opposing managers Roberto Mancini, at City, and Liverpool’s Rafa Benitez could hang in the balance of a top-four finish.

Mancini made an impressive start to his career in England after succeeding Mark Hughes in December, but the Italian has won just two of his next six games and he has been forced to deny reports of a bust-up with Craig Bellamy.

The former Inter boss will not need to be told that his job is likely to be the subject of a meeting with City owner Sheikh Mansour at the end of the season if objectives set by the billionaire oil tycoon are not met.

Likewise Benitez at Liverpool. It is understood the Spaniard is set to discuss his future at Anfield at the end of a majorly disappointing campaign, which was encapsulated in Thursday’s uninspiring Europa League win over Unirea Urziceni.

City suffered from a player shortage in their league draw with 10-man Stoke on their last outing and they could again be struggling for the visit of Liverpool.

Carlos Tevez will not feature after returning to Argentina for family reasons, while Bellamy could feature against his former club after a recent absence due to his knee injury.

Patrick Vieira has been handed a three-match ban by the Football Association following his clash with Stoke’s Glenn Whelan, while Vincent Kompany undergoes a test on a groin problem.

Shaun Wright-Phillips and Stephen Ireland all suffered knocks in last weekend’s FA Cup draw with Stoke, but were among the substitutes in the midweek meeting with the Potters. Martin Petrov has been ruled out for up to a month with a knee injury.

Liverpool will still be without Fernando Torres and Glen Johnson due to injury, but Yossi Benayoun may feature after several weeks’ of recovery from a broken rib.

Maxi Rodriguez is likely to return after Albert Riera failed to impress when the Argentine was cup-tied against Unirea, while Emiliano Insua could replace Fabio Aurelio. Sotirios Kyrgiakos is suspended.

Manchester City: Given, Richards, Toure, Lescott, Garrido, De Jong, Ireland, Barry, A Johnson, Santa Cruz, Adebayor.

Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Insua, Lucas, Mascherano, Kuyt, Gerrard, Maxi, Ngog.

Paul Merson can’t see Burnley or Wigan upsetting the form book against Aston Villa and Spurs.

Peter Beagrie says Stuart McCall is still a Bradford legend, but is pleased to see Peter Taylor get the top job.

Read the article on Sky Sports

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