The boulder is getting awfully heavy at this point.
Like the famous greek tragic hero, Liverpool will once again try and scale the hill of taking three points from a team in the top half of the table. Each time they've tried this season, they have watched in vain as a loss or draw has seen the infuriating rock roll right back down to where they started.
Unfortunately, their latest attempt will be at just about the hardest place possible. Eastlands, The Etihad, whatever you call it, it's been a house of horrors for most. City have lost exactly one game there all season, and they needed Samir Nasri to hide behind his teammates like an agoraphobic mouse to lose the draw in that one. In fact, they haven't even conceded a goal at home since that one. Yes, daunting.
Liverpool do catch a break in that talisman Yaya Toure is still at the ANC, along with is brother. Vincent Kompany will also play no part through injury. Those are two of the stalwarts in the side. So the spine should be weakened. Doesn't mean it'll be weak, but it won't be at its full tumescence, let's say.
However, Liverpool will catch a pissed off City side, after a draw at QPR which saw them lose ground to their city rivals. In the league, City haven't failed to win in two matches since September. They generally rebound pretty quickly.
While the defense won't be at full strength, the attack will. The main danger comes from Tevez/Aguero or both together, with Silva behind them. Dzeko isn't quite as on fire as he was earlier in the year, but he's the physical striker that have caused Liverpool to look like Dresden at most times. And even though he's the very definition of "penis", Samir Nasri can't be ignored either.
The last time these two danced, Liverpool really should have won. Only Martin Skrtel's unfortunate backpass kept them from doing so. They also took it to City, unafraid to attack and leave themselves a little exposed. However, that was back when Mancini was trying to prove something to someone by playing three at the back, and they were struggling to adjust. That was also at Anfield, this most certainly is not.
With Enrique likely to come in at left-back and Johnson going back to the right, Liverpool can get some joy from them on the counter. Nasri, Silva, and either Argentine are not exactly going to strain muscles to track back at all times. This should cause whoever is wide -- be it Borini, Sterling, Sturridge, or Suarez -- to tuck in to give them more space and link up with whoever the central striker is, be it Sturridge or El Pistolero.
I would find it hard to believe that Gerrard can put in such an immense performance on a Wednesday and then do so again on a Sunday, but I also don't make a habit of doubting the man. They also don't play again until the following Monday, so Gerrard will get the rest after. Lucas hasn't been asked to get two matches in four days since returning, but he might have to here. Can't afford Joe Allen's positional unawareness or exuberance with how much City try and get between the lines. See no reason Henderson can't keep his place unless the legs say otherwise.
While there will be tough games ahead, this is the last away date at a team above Pool in the table. But Wednesday tossed away win-into-a-draw means that they really need to get something out of this one, and could provide momentum into the closing kick. To get it, you have to risk getting porked. Because parking the bus again will yield even worse results at City than it did against Arsenal.