LIVERPOOL 2-2 MANCHESTER CITY: POST GAME MUSINGS
Liverpool and Manchester City played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Anfield yesterday. There were incredible goals, unbelievable blocks, controversial decisions and quality everywhere you looked. It seemed like two of the three best teams in the world going toe to toe. Below, we look at a few random thoughts about the game and the ramifications of the result.
° The first half. Jurgen Klopp was exasperated at what he saw from his players in that first half. He couldn’t quite believe it. They were passive, allowing City to play through them, and when they got on the ball, they were panicky, playing a host of aimless long balls. It was the opposite of the bravery the manager spoke of before the game.
Halves like that aren’t common place, or at least haven’t been for a good number of years under the German. It was the kind of stage fright we usually see from the team whenever they travel to Old Trafford (until last season). When world class players briefly forget how good they are and succumb to the pressure of the occasion.
° The halftime turnaround. Whenever you see the gaffer sprinting to the dressing room at the halftime whistle, you know there will be a reaction second half. He used the break to get his message across to the boys and there was marked improvement after the break. We were more purposeful with our passing, and we played around the press much better.
° The midfield. Fabinho, Henderson and Jones were poor as a unit as they got dominated and overrun. Too many times they got bypassed easily. As a trio, they lost more duels (14) than they won (11), and only managed to win three tackles between them. We are usually aggressive and robust in the press against City.
So it was surprising seeing how our midfielders just let people get past them. Fabinho and Jones did it for their first goal when Jesus just breezed past them, and Henderson did it when Bernardo gave him the runaround before slipping Foden through. There were several other examples of that and you wonder how all three stayed on for the full ninety.
° Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian was supreme in the second half, having spent the first half not seeing enough of the ball. The way he dropped deep to pick up the ball and then skip past Cancelo to open up space, and then the pace to attack that space, before the exquisite through ball for Mané to finish. The pass was so good Sadio didn’t even have to take a touch.
Managing all that when running at full speed takes some doing. The goal was even more spectacular. Skipping past three players, selling Laporte a dummy, before a postage stamp finish with his weaker foot at a difficult angle. That’s the kind of mesmerising play Lionel Messi won Ballon d’Ors off of. Mo is unstoppable right now, surely the club have to tie him down.
° Issues at right back. Trent gets criticism when teams target his side and he’s unable to deal with all they throw at him. We saw Milner ruthlessly targeted and exposed. Phil Foden exploited his lack of pace and the lack of protection from his colleagues. Gomez didn’t fare any better as he was caught out of position for their second goal.
° What this means for the title race. In 2019/20, belief really grew that we will go all the way when we turned City over at Anfield. The victory was as much a physiological boost to us, as it was a blow to them. Without that this time around, it’s going to be even harder. Draws at home to both Chelsea and City mean we will most likely have to go to Stamford Bridge and the Etihad and get a result.
° The race so far. Chelsea lead the way, with Liverpool and City a point behind. Manchester United are a further point behind that. Still pretty tight at the top and the season is starting to reveal a lot about the potential contenders. Things will heat up after the international break and the pretenders will be left behind. Liverpool are very much in the contenders camp.