LIVERPOOL 3-1 MANCHESTER CITY: COMMUNITY SHIELD REVIEW
Liverpool clinched their 16th FA Community Shield last night, their first in 16 years, by defeating Manchester City at the King Power stadium. A keenly contested affair was decided late in the day, with debutant Darwin Nunez heavily involved off the bench.
Here’s the match review. For player ratings from the match, you can head over in here:
° Lineup. Jürgen Klopp opted for Roberto Firmino over Darwin Nunez from the off. It could have been easy to throw the big money signing in (like Pep did with Haaland), but the gaffer knew he had to go with the tried and tested against such opposition.
These two sides are the best pressers of the ball in Europe and it is crucial to have that telepathic linkup play in the forward line to help keep possession and build attacks. Firmino put in a pressing clinic for an hour and helped the team in and out of possession.
° Quick out the blocks. The Reds flew out of the traps as they dominated the early exchanges. Early shots by Thiago and then Diaz were charged down, before Salah skinned Cancelo and sent a disguised shot into the side netting. Liverpool were all over the Citizens.
Robertson also went close when he headed into the side netting at the backpost. Ederson then had to be alert to palm a cross away from Diaz who looked set for a tap in. It was quite an impressive start and it looked like the intense pre-season schedule was paying off.
° Trent provides lift-off. You could see the plan in attack, as the Reds moved the City defence one way before a quick switch to the opposite flank where a red shirt would be in all sorts of space. Thiago played the switch to Salah who laid it off for Trent to hit first time. A sweet strike in off the post.
10 of Trent’s 13 goals in all competitions for Liverpool have been scored from outside the box (77%). Since his debut in October 2016, only Salah (11) has scored more goals for the club from outside the box.
° City grow into it. It was a good response to going behind by Guardiola’s side. They kept possession well and sought to get Haaland involved. A Silva cross found him at the backpost and after shrugging Robertson off, could only shoot straight at Adrian.
The Norwegian then made a mess of another excellent Silva cross to the backpost. The Reds kept their defensive shape and battled hard in midfield, with Thiago, Henderson and Fabinho all snapping into 50-50s. The halftime lead was well deserved.
° Adrian’s credible display. The Spaniard is unfortunately judged harshly on some of his errors in the past but he was solid last night. He was called into action time and again but proved more than a decent stand-in. He made seven saves all told, and that’s discounting the fierce Mahrez shot.
° First changes by the managers. Pep was first to blink, sending on Foden and Alvarez for Mahrez and Grealish. Klopp reacted by throwing on his big money striker, with Firmino sacrificed. Darwin could capitalise on the spaces opening up as City chased the game.
° Defensively diligent Diaz. One of the traits that made Sadio Mané special was his work tracking back to support Robertson. Diaz fulfilled that to a tee last night in his running battle against Kyle Walker. He put in a tireless defensive shift consisting of several high intensity sprints.
° City equalise. A Diaz turnover led to a swift City counter. De Bruyne found Foden at the backpost and even though Adrian blocked the first effort, he failed to gather and in the scramble that ensued, Alvarez poked the ball home.
It was unlucky as Adrian seemed to have two hands on the ball before Foden kicked it out of his grasp. The goal was initially ruled out wrongly for offside, with VAR confirming the Englishman was onside. On another day it could have been ruled out for a foul on the ‘keeper.
° Reds weather the storm. Momentum swung City’s way after they drew level and they pressed hard for the winner. Liverpool held firm at the back though, with Matip and Van Dijk repelling everything thrown at them.
° Darwin’s impact. The Uruguayan was heavily involved after coming on. He caused Dias and Ake problems with his pace and movement in behind. After his header from a Salah cross struck an arm, he chased down Craig Pawson appealing for a penalty.
° Same old Salah. The Egyptian tucked away the penalty in emphatic fashion to give his team a late lead. He was probably the Man of the Match on the day after a classy display. His linkup with Darwin looked promising as well. More to come.
Since joining Liverpool in 2017/18, Mohamed Salah has scored more goals against Manchester City (8) than any other player has managed in that time.
° Milner slots in at right back. The 36 year old shows no signs of slowing down. He came on after 74 minutes for Trent, with the game poised at 1-1. He didn’t put a foot wrong however, keeping Foden under wraps and almost grabbing an assist for Darwin with a pinpoint cross.
° Darwin delights on dream debut. The 23 year old sealed the victory with a stooping header past Ederson after Robertson did well to nod a Salah cross back across the face of goal. That Darwin attempted more shots (4) than passes (3) sums his impact up.
You could clearly see what he is all about. He pressed well to win the ball back in the final third. He didn’t stick around either, sprinting in behind at breakneck speed for a pass. He could have netted a hat trick in the half an hour he was on the pitch.
The sharpness will come as he gets fitter but it’s not a bad start to his Liverpool career is it? You could see just what the goal meant to him with his celebration infront of the fans. Debut goal and a trophy to boot. Here’s to more of the same.
° First piece of silverware. After missing out on two trophies in the final week of the last campaign, it feels gratifying to see the Reds lift their first piece of silverware this season against the side they lost the Premier League title so narrowly to.
° Laying down a marker. As with every summer, pundits keep underestimating this Liverpool side. The performance and result last night reminds everyone that we’ll be there again this season fighting for the top honours. Mané may have departed, but Darwin proved the void can be filled.
° What next? Liverpool are in action again today for their final pre-season friendly of the summer as they host Strasbourg. This will be the first game at Anfield in over two months and even though it will comprise mostly of the second string, expect Anfield to be packed.
Following tonight’s game, the Reds are next in action against Fulham on the opening day of the Premier League. A behind closed doors friendly has been arranged against Aston Villa following the trip to London as Klopp seeks to give minutes to the entire squad to get everyone up to speed.
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