Toure to shine in showdown

  • By: Andy Schooler and Matt Brocklebank
  • Last Updated: April 13 2014, 16:11 BST

Yaya Toure is the player to side with in Sunday's Premier League showdown between Liverpool and Manchester City, says Andy Schooler.

Yaya Toure: Usually rises to the occasion
Yaya Toure: Usually rises to the occasion

The title hopefuls go head to head at Anfield after which only one of them will have their destiny in their own hands.

Fellow contenders Chelsea are also in action later in the day - they take on Swansea - and our team has previewed both games.

Liverpool v Manchester City (1337 BST)

They don't come much bigger than this. The title is currently in both sides' hands but that won't be the case come the final whistle - the draw favours Manchester City by the way - and on paper this has the potential to be a cracker. Analysing the teams, it's no wonder most people (including the bookies) are expecting goals. Both sides' strength is in attack (both average close to three goals per game) and the weak links appear to be in defence. Liverpool, 29/20 for a 10th successive win, look potentially vulnerable in wide areas with Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan set to play at full-back. The latter has certainly not played in a game of this magnitude before and as well as he has done since coming in for Jose Enrique, it would be no surprise for City (2/1 shots) to target him. That could well mean Jesus Navas (3/1 for an anytime assist) and Samir Nasri are both included with Edin Dzeko making way for the returning Sergio Aguero. As for Brendan Rodgers, he'll be well aware that Martin Demichelis is prone to the odd gaff or two and Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge will look to prey of any deficiencies there. Rodgers' main selection issue would appear to be who to play out of Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling as giving his defence added protection by including Joe Allen or the fit-again Lucas looks a strong call given what they are up against. Whether that's the case or not, I feel Yaya Toure is man to side with in this game. The Ivorian looks set to be the influential figure in that midfield area. He'll cover more ground than his contemporaries in there and the box-to-box midfielder is a player who has consistently delivered for City in big games like this. Toure is third in this season's Premier League goal charts with 18 with only the aforementioned Suarez and Sturridge ahead of him. His runs from deep look likely to cause Liverpool's far-from-watertight defence problems, while he's also proved deadly from spot kicks and free kicks this season. Despite his goal record, which includes seven in his last nine games, he's twice the price of Suarez and Sturridge at 11/4 to find the net at any time. Given it looks likely to be a goal-filled game - the layers certainly expect that to be the case with some short 'over goals' prices about - that's enough to tempt me in. I'll keep stakes low for now but should Rodgers go with both Coutinho and Sterling it may well be worth going in again in the hour before kick-off.

Verdict: Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2 (AS)

Opta stats:

Liverpool have won all four home meetings with fellow members of the top seven so far this season, scoring 14 and conceding just once.

Man City have only won one of their previous 16 Premier League matches at Anfield (D5 L10), with that win coming back in May 2003.

This game sees the meeting between the two highest scoring sides in the Premier League this season - Liverpool (90) and Man City (84).

This game will see the two players with the most goals from dead ball situations in the Premier League this season (free kicks and penalties) - Steven Gerrard (12) and Yaya Toure (10).

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has scored in five successive Premier League appearances and has netted six goals in his last six away games in the competition.

Swansea v Chelsea (1607)

Swansea are in grave danger of being sucked right into the end-of-season relegation dogfight and the result of Fulham's match with Norwich on Saturday afternoon may have some sort of bearing on the outcome of this one. A win for Fulham would leave Swansea just three points clear of the drop zone, albeit with a significantly better goal difference, and there could be a tense atmosphere inside the Liberty Stadium when Jose Mourinho's men come to town. Conversely, heightened fears of possible relegation may provide Garry Monk's side with the kind of shot in the arm they so desperately need as results of late have been mixed, at best. One win in eight league encounters doesn't make for good reading and last weekend's lifeless 1-0 defeat at Hull will not have filled the side with much confidence ahead of the visit Champions League semi-finalists Chelsea. The Blues' title hopes took a blow at Crystal Palace but they got back on track against Stoke and are around the 8/11 mark to claim victory here. That looks reasonable value on form but 15/8 to win to nil is a shade more attractive. The Blues have managed five shutouts in their last eight in all competitions and have the meanest defence in the top flight. The fact that 'own goals' is Swansea's second top goalscorer this season, behind Wilfried Bony, gives the perfect indication as to what they're up against. The absence of Eden Hazard in attack should not be underestimated but his injury comes at a time when Willian and Andre Schurrle, in particular, have finally found top gear so goals won't be too hard to come by against a team with just one clean sheet in their last eight league games.

Verdict: Swansea 0 Chelsea 2 (MB)

Opta stats:

Swansea have won three and lost just one of their last five home league games (D1), keeping a clean sheet in all three wins.

Chelsea have won three and lost none of their five previous Barclays Premier League meetings with Swansea (D2).

Swansea have won just one of their previous 10 Premier League games in the month of April (W1 D4 L5).

Andre Schurrle has scored seven goals in 12 PL starts this season, but is yet to score in any of his 13 apps as a substitute.

Chelsea have lost their last two Premier League away games. Jose Mourinho has never suffered three successive Premier League away defeats within a single season before.

  • Posted at 2135 BST on 10/04/2014.