EPL: Reds must go for City's jugular

Are Liverpool genuine title contenders or mere pretenders?

With a little help from Manchester City , they will soon find out.

Liverpool go into Christmas top of the league table for the first time since the 2008/09 season, one in which they eventually finished runners-up.

Such is the competitiveness of this season's Premier League, that only two points separate them from fifth-placed Everton.

Getting there is often the easier part. Staying there will take a lot more out of them.

The Etihad Stadium assignment tomorrow morning (Singapore time) will be their toughest of this campaign.

It will therefore be the litmus test of their title credentials.

FIREPOWER

The Reds have the momentum, helped by an in-form Luis Suarez who has scored 10 goals in his last four outings.

But Man City, a point behind Liverpool in the standings, go into this game as firm favourites.

At home, they have won eight out of eight league fixtures, in which they have scored 35 goals and conceded just five.

Even Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted that the Citizens look most likely to clinch the league crown.

But this is not the time to preach caution.

Liverpool's success thus far is in their ability to break through opposing defences.

With 42 goals from 17 games, only City have found the net more often in the league - 51 goals.

Daniel Sturridge was carrying the torch up front until he succumbed to injury.

But, with Suarez around, the transition was smooth.

Missing the first five league games due to suspension has not stopped him from going all the way to the top of the goal-scorers' chart.

He is by far the most outstanding player of this campaign, firing in 19 goals in 12 games. Second-placed Sergio Aguero, who will miss this game through injury, has six goals fewer from three more appearances for City.

But instincts will lure Rodgers into holding back in this tie.

Given City's firepower at home and the intimidating statistics that scream at opponents, it may look suicidal to attack the hosts.

But Liverpool simply do not have the personnel to hold out an onslaught.

Their Achilles' heel is at the rear, where the suspect defence has been terribly exposed on several occasions.

Critics also point at a shallow squad and the lack of a winner's mentality.

But, if they pull off an unlikely win against City, the psychological boost will be immense.

And to even stand a chance of matching City, Liverpool must throw caution to the wind.

Take Philippe Coutinho to the sword that Vincent Kompany wields and see how the Brazilian reacts.

Pit Jordan Henderson's wits against the formidable Yaya Toure.

Throw Raheem Sterling into the deep end where hustlers mingle.

And unleash Suarez behind enemy lines and see if he can still conjure the magic that has taken the Premiership by storm.

This is no time for the Reds to take one step back.

It's their chance to make the leap from surprise packages to deserving front-runners.

Even if the odds are stacked ridiculously high against them.


Get The New Paper for more stories.