City holds no fears for Liverpool boss

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish insists Manchester City’s super-talented squad hold no fears for his side.

The air of invincibility which has enveloped the Barclays Premier League leader for most of the season has evaporated over the festive period.

City has taken just one point from two matches, during which time they have failed to score against West Brom and Sunderland, who inflicted Roberto Mancini’s side’s second defeat of the campaign at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.

The Blues were second best in their encounter at Anfield in late November but escaped with a 1-1 draw and Dalglish draws confidence from all those factors.

"They are a fantastic side but so are we so we are not going to go there and be scared," said the Scot, whose team go into the match on the back of a 3-1 win over Newcastle on Friday.

"It is all well and good saying they have loads of money but they have a good team.

"The money they have everyone else would love to have but unfortunately they don’t. We will go and play whichever 11 they put on the pitch and it doesn’t matter how much they cost.

"But we have the utmost respect for what they have done, we will respect and appreciate their ability.

"They are certainly a really difficult side to play against and we have our work cut out but we will work hard and fingers crossed we will come home with a result."

Liverpool has had two days extra to recover since its last outing and despite City’s vast depth of playing resources Dalglish has some sympathy for counterpart Mancini.

"I know people will say he has a massive squad and enough to field two teams but you have to take the players into consideration because they are the ones who are the main attraction," added the Reds boss.

"There has to be a bit of common-sense and a game on the first and third (of January) is a bit unreasonable really.

"There has to be a reasonable amount of time for players to recover.

"But I think television has been massively helpful to many people in the Premier League so we cannot cut off the hand that feeds us."

Dalglish hopes a new year brings a change of fortune for his side after a frustrating start to the season which has seen performances not matched by their points tally.

Although sixth-placed Liverpool is only five points off Tottenham, in third, its situation could have been much improved had their home record of four wins and six draws been better.

Liverpool has won more matches away from Anfield, where it has dominated most games but failed to take chances, but Dalglish is hoping the three scored against Newcastle to come from behind and win is a sign the tide is turning for the Reds in front of goal.

"To get 2011 out of the way was good for us because I don’t think we’ve had too much in the matches we have played in the first part of the season," he said.

"I don’t think the players have had the reward for their performances so maybe January 3 it is going to run on and we will get some of the luck we deserved for the great play they have.

"We will look forward to 2012 and hopefully it will bring us more luck than we got in the first part of this season."

What may be more significant than luck is the return to fitness of captain Steven Gerrard after two months out with an ankle infection.

The England midfielder has made two substitute appearances, totaling 52 minutes, and scored against the Magpies.

Dalglish may be tempted to give him his first start since late October against City but sounded a word of caution.

"He is a fantastic player but we have to remember that he is still feeling his way back into it," he said.

"But his performance (against Newcastle) will give him a huge lift as much as it gave us a huge lift.

"We are delighted to get any players back, whether people describe them as big or not."

Luis Suarez is expected to return to the starting line-up after serving a one-match ban against Newcastle.

Mario Balotelli could return for City.

The Italian was not risked at Sunderland due to a slight ankle problem suffered in training.

With no fresh injury concerns, manager Roberto Mancini has a full-strength squad – aside from the absent Carlos Tevez – and will consider changes for the second of two games in just over two days.