Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool FC I Anti-climatic or a well earned point?

How would you describe today’s performance in two words? Pretty Ugly. What I mean by this is at times the football played by both teams was beautiful with some extremely pretty one two’s that split each other’s defence wide open. Then there was the ugly side of the game with players unable to make a 3-yard pass and it wasn't just Salah for a change but a complete lack of movement by all when we were trying to play the ball out from the back.


To quote some great punditry “it was a game of two halves”. When you have two great teams playing one and other the game will usually go one of two ways. You either have an end to end thriller with great football or each team cancels the other out and it turns into a scrappy game.

We had the delight of both possibilities, the first half a joy to watch but in the second half our and their tactics nullified both team's efforts.

Let’s have look at some key events which took place during the match. 

Firstly, Klopp went with what appeared to be an extremely attacking line up by including all four of our super attackers in a formation that kept changing form. A 4-2-3-1 became a 4-2-4 when attacking and then quickly changed to a 4-4-2 when defending.

This new formation brought about a completely different game plan to what we are used to, our forward pressing was non-existent and we appeared to give them too much time when playing out from their back-line.

The positive was, when we attacked, Manchester City's defence didn't know where to look because in the blink of an eye Mane, Salah, Jota and Bobby were all inbound - running towards goal. When we attacked, the football played was fluid, quick and a thing of beauty. The only thing it lacked was that final pass/touch and some clinical finishing.

With such a promising start we thought we were in for a treat of a game. For a while we were, before we hit the sour pocket of play in the middle. 

Our opening, and only goal, came via a penalty. Was it a penalty or not is the question.....

Well the foul was definitely cause for a penalty but should we have been in that position at all? Only moments earlier Sterling was given a shove just outside our 18-yard box and because he didn't go down immediately the Ref never blew for a free-kick.

Sterling's decision to stay on his feet ultimately cost Manchester City a goal because I do believe he was fouled and if he'd gone down straight away there couldn't have been any complaints. This lack of decision making from Ref’s reminds of our conversations on previous threads which might describe players (Salah) “diving”, but note as well, if a player doesn't go to ground the Ref rarely gives a foul.

It all balances out in the end (well so they say), the free kick wasn't given, we had a penalty and up steps Salah. After his last penalty, struck centrally, it was mentioned he needed to change his target spot because next time the keeper might just stand in the middle. Well Mo must have been reading our comments because today he picked the side netting and just as well. You could see Ederson delay his dive waiting to see if Salah tried going straight down the middle again.
 

Since we're on the topic of penalties, let’s jump ahead to the one awarded to City.

I stated during the game I had no complaints with the penalty being given due to part of Gomez’s arm was away from his body and as long as the officials stay consistent with this rule then so be it.

Although Henderson brought up his concerns during his post-match presser asking“where are players meant to put their hands”. Well I think I have the answer, pockets in the shorts and all outfield players need to run around with their hands in their pockets.


Seriously though the FA and those in charge of officiating our rules need to sit down, go through the law book and take a hard look at what needs to be altered to return our beautiful game back to what it used to be, and is meant to be.

At this stage last season, there had been a total of 19 penalties, now fast forward to the 20/21 season and a staggering 41 penalties over the same period.

I will need to check but believe Manchester United have been given 30 of those, or there about. Regardless, these numbers are a clear indication that the rules currently being implemented need immediate refining.

Moving on from pussy penalties galore.

It's really hard to wax lyrical about how good some of our football was in the first half and some of it was divine, due to the lack of energy and fluid football played in the second. Whatever the team talks were at half time they certainly worked from a defensive point of view because both teams null and voided each other's normally potent attacking outlets.

The final 45 minutes consisted of two teams trying not to make a mistake that might cause them to lose rather than two teams looking to win. The positive from this though was that our defensive line held up well (enough) under pressure.

One major concern to come out of today’s game was another injury to our defensive unit. This time it was Trent, who went down midway through the second half clutching his calf.

There is no official word yet on how bad the injury is or whether it was just precautionary to take him off but he'll most likely be withdrawn from the England squad - I think Gomez and Henderson should also be withdrawn as a show of solidarity.


At the end of the day however, it’s not as doom and gloom as I've perhaps made it sound because as pointed out by one of our beloved Nesters, it hasn't been an easy start to the season.

Having played Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton in our opening 8 fixtures, with only 1 loss, and including today’s result 2 draws, we're second in the league and 5 points ahead of our biggest title challengers Manchester City. (Doesn't matter they have a game in hand and could reduce it to 2 points, that’s their problem not ours!).


I haven’t drilled too far down into individual performances because I'm interested in hearing how other people saw the game and where/what we need to look at in the future.

For now we move into the boring, pointless and completely idiotic international break. Although with our current injury list this break may be a blessing in disguise. As long as none of our players get injured while representing their countries we should be in good shape when they all return.

In the meantime, my fellow Red’s, stay safe, be kind to one and other and we’ll never walk alone.

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