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'Pool plot to be red hot

Liverpool assistant coach Steve Clarke admits the options tomorrow's visitors Manchester City have at their disposal presents a significant challenge as the Reds look to extend their unbeaten run.

The English Premier League leaders have dropped just two points in 12 matches this season and are five clear of neighbours Manchester United ahead of this weekend's fixtures.

Even though they suffered a disappointing Champions League defeat to Napoli in midweek, such is the depth of quality in City's squad manager Roberto Mancini can make wholesale changes to his line-up without drastically weakening the team.



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Nevertheless, Clarke believes Liverpool, who have not lost in nine matches in all competitions, can match their big-spending visitors if they put in a performance like the one which brought victory at Chelsea last weekend.

"They're top of the league and they're top of the league on merit," he said.

"They've only dropped two points but we look forward to the challenge.

"I don't think they have a main threat -- they have a number of top-quality players, all capable of causing a problem.

"It's up to us as a team and as individual players to handle that threat and if we do that we'll be okay.

"We try to prepare our players and the way we want them to play.

"We feel if we can perform to our maximum, and the players can all perform to their maximum on the day, we can give any team in the Premier League a game."

The result at Stamford Bridge was just the confidence boost the players needed ahead of facing City, who were defeated 3-0 at Anfield last season.

Liverpool's home form has been disappointing with only two wins from six matches and with their last two outings on Merseyside resulting in draws against Premier League newcomers Norwich and Swansea.

But Clarke echoed the comments of manager Kenny Dalglish when he said they could not look at the Chelsea result as being any more significant than any other game.

"I'm not so sure it's going to kick-start anything," he said.



GAME

"You just have to take every game as it comes.

"We've dropped points at home. We feel disappointed to have dropped them but we can't do anything about that now.

"We have to look at the next game, we have to attack it with relish and try to get the win we need."

Captain Steven Gerrard is still out with an ankle infection which has sidelined him for a month, but the only other absentee in Dalglish's squad is teenage left-back Jack Robinson.

Last week the Scot dropped winger Stewart Downing to the bench after 11 successive Premier League starts and also among the substitutes at Chelsea were Jamie Carragher, returning from injury, Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson.

Dalglish is likely to keep changes to a minimum but may opt to bring a couple of those players back tomorrow.


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