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Football News: Manchester City v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective

Manchester City v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective
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Manchester City v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective

 


Unusually in this period of football with no fans in grounds, this was a high-intensity match in the first half, but it was clear that the players had nothing left for the second half. What was an exciting game of two sluggers throwing everything at each other looking for a knockout blow petered out into two worn out leg weary fighters at the end of a fight who have punched themselves out. By the end it was looking like both teams had settled for the point.

The two penalties were always going to be given, a handball is always subjective and Gomez did pull his hand away but, though it was smashed at him, there was a bit of distance which meant the referee was always going to give a penalty. Harsh? Definitely, but there are a lot of those given, so it is no surprise. The other one was a foul, though it must be said I have seen a few of those missed by the officials in recent months. Even with the arrival of VAR, they are still incompetent and clueless about the game.

Overall it was a fairly even game, though I feel that Liverpool shaded it, that could just be my personal bias at play, so I would not put much store in that feeling. The surprising thing was the lack of clear cut chances, there was nothing like as many as you would expect in a game between two teams with such potent goalscoring threats.

 


Manchester City

 

I have to say City disappointed me, they look a shadow of the team they were, for me that is mainly down to the loss of David Silva. With him in the side they kept good possession, moving the ball around quickly but without turning it over. Without him they struggle to keep hold of the ball for extended periods and that is no doubt contributing to the rise in goals against them. One of the main ways a Guardiola side defends is by keeping the ball for lengthy periods, moving the opponents around. When the opposition does get the ball, they are often needing a breather after chasing after it for 10 minutes and so unable to mount a meaningful attack.

They finally have a defence worthy of the name, something that has taken Pep a lot longer to sort out than it should have, but their midfield and attack now look weaker than they have been in a long, long time. It feels like a team in transition, something which is incredible when you consider how much money has been spent in the last few years. Maybe even more incredible is that this is a squad that is still fully capable of winning the league and arguably the strongest in the Premier League!

The other big question, I suppose, is whether Jesus meant the touch for the goal? His reply when asked after the match was that of a player that did not mean to do it and I do feel that there was no way he meant the ball to end up where it did. However, in my opinion, that just shows good instincts and reactions to reach the ball first and put it away. In other words, whether he meant it or not, it was a great striker's goal.

 


Liverpool

 

Klopp - it is probably harsh to criticise him, I fully understood why he chose the team he did, but I think he needs to start looking at rotation of the front 3, rather than just removing a midfielder. It did work, particularly in the first half, to a large degree, but it requires so much more work and meant players were playing out of position. It might well be that he just did not want to take the risk of one holding when Fabinho is out, as none of the rest of the team can cover defensively to his level.

 

Alisson - a good performance from the Brazilian, he exudes calm, even when rushing 40 yards out of the box to head a ball clear. His decisiveness is very important to a team with aspirations of retaining the title.

 

Alexander-Arnold - once again not at his scintillating best, but clearly it was fatigue as he pulled up in the second half with an injury. Losing him for a lengthy time would be a huge blow, not just is he a great player, but even when not playing well he draws the focus of the opponent's defence too him.

 

Matip - he just looked like a player coming back off a long injury, extremely rusty, slow to react and in need of games. So, despite his passing being absolutely abysmal, I am not too worried as we know he can do so much better once he gets going. The only real worry is keeping him fit.

 

Gomez - a decent performance from Gomez, but only decent, still a way off his best, but that could be down to playing alongside a different partner again, one who was way off the pace. One thing that has impressed me is his willingness to look for those diagonal balls van Dijk specialised in. Like van Dijk, they do not always come off, but it shows he is looking to change the point of attack and about how to create, rather than just making the easy pass sideways or backwards. If there was one major criticism of him when he was playing well, is that tendency to take the easy pass too often. Both Matip and van Dijk have the vision to look for the more incisive pass, Fabinho was often dropped back when chasing a game as he can too. It is a big bonus if Gomez adds it to his armoury as well.

 

Robertson - just about the only player that looks to be unaffected by the lack of a pre-season, he has been on it since the season started and is still playing really well. His link up with Mane is exceptional. But, he does tend to stand off a bit much and allow crosses.

 

Henderson - not his most effective game, struggled to establish control of the midfield as City outnumbered Liverpool massively in that area. Had a quiet second half.

 

Wijnaldum - struggled after a really good start, looking really leggy and was unable to make any of his bursts forward from midfield. Looks in need of a rest by the way he faded as the game went on.

 

Jota - he is allowed a poor game after his recent performances, but this was particularly poor. I do have one major worry with him, his game seems to consist of him creating chances for himself, when at his best. I really cannot remember him playing anyone else in or doing anything to help build an attack. That might be due to still learning how to work with the others, but it is a real worry as he becomes little more than a hindrance when not playing well. It is something I would like to see him work on as, for all the criticism of Salah being greedy, Salah and Mane contribute heavily when not playing well. I really do not think playing on the right suits him and he very rarely offers width out there, usually coming in far too early and so giving time for the defence to adjust and leave no gap for the Liverpool right-back to attack.

 

Salah - his touch was off and he looked out on his feet at the end, but he never stops going at the opposition, or gives them a moment's peace. He also keeps running at teams in the box which caused the penalty award, plus he is clinical with putting them in the back of the net.

 

Firmino - started well but also faded out of the game. It was telling that after he went off Liverpool created almost nothing and struggled badly to keep any control of the ball. Even an out of form Firmino is key to the way Liverpool play and Klopp needs to find someone else who can provide something similar in the middle. Really needs to make more of his chances, especially when breaking through against just the keeper, though Ederson did do very well.

 

Mane - looked much more like his old self but he did allow Walker far too much space to get forward. If the system is going to play with the four forwards in it, the wider ones have to be more diligent about keeping the opposing full-backs pressed back.

 

Shaqiri - came on for Firmino in the 59th minute. After a number of good performances in midfield, Klopp decided to stick with his system and bring him on to play on the left. A mistake in my eyes as we needed his vision and range of passing in the centre without Firmino there. He struggled to get into the game.

 

Milner - replaced the injured Alexander-Arnold in the 63rd minute. As usual he came in and gave a no-nonsense all-action performance. Milner really is the man that can, no matter where he is asked to play, he just can do it.

Written by Tris Burke November 10 2020 10:57:03

 

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