Liverpool hosted Manchester City at Anfield over the weekend. Both teams had to save their faces following losses in Europe.
The game should have seen more goals and Liverpool should have been punished for their waywardness in the final third. Manchester City set up badly again, they had no answer to stop an attacking Liverpool, despite their adjustments during the game.
The match started at a frantic pace. Most of the time City were trying to slow down the pace of the Liverpudians. Liverpool’s 3-4-3 setup afforded them acres of space on the flanks. Poor cut-in decisions, and Markovic’s slow pace and poor intuition meant the Reds could not utilize this advantage.
Zabaleta’s adventure upfront resulted in the first goal. Liverpool got the ball while Zabaleta was on his normal forward bombing movement. A quick pass to the left, exploited the space he left uncovered. Henderson got in good position to score a screamer from outside the penalty area.
City’s response to this quick move was poor. A defensive midfielder should have done better to cover the back four in these kind of situations, knowing well that Liverpool played a wide front three. Zabaleta’s movement would have made more sense if it was to overload the opponents right hand side and it’s back three.
14 minutes later, City levelled up from a cool Dzeko finish. The striker has ample time to slot the ball pass Mignolet as a result of Lovren’s poor tracking. The goal balance the pace of the game, as City regained control of the midfield.
The start of the second period was similar to the first. Fiesty. We saw more runs into City’s final third especially from Sterling, although he didn’t convert them into meaningful outcome. Markovic was awful again, making slow decisions turning around rather than making the appropriate passes into the area.
Changes in the second half resulted in shape changes by both teams. Manchester City dropped their double striker form when Dzeko was pulled off. Sturridge’s entrance made it two upfront. Other changes didn’t make the expected impact.
Coutinho increased Liverpool’s tally after scoring a goal similar to Henderson’s. Another shot from outside of the area.
Despite having an extra player upfront (3v2), with lots of intersecting forward runs in and around the area Liverpool didn’t have the passing ability to exploit this advantage. Their goals came from unexpected conditions. They never forced any errors. The game should have been killed earlier if they had a potent striker to put the ball in the back of the net.
City lost a couple of chances towards the end of the game in their frantic efforts to get a draw. They controlled the midfield after their goal but failed to use the possession they garnered. They fell like a park of cards when they lost the ball high up the pitch and Liverpool countered.
Once again, Fernandinho’s performance was questionable. He wasn’t able to stop the counters that led to the goals, since he was the deepest lying midfielder.
City were toothless upfront. They were not able to respond to Liverpool’s shape and numbers in all parts of the pitch.
This is a game they should have won to catch up with Chelsea and keep their title hopes