Manchester City 1 – 1 Liverpool | Ethiad Stadium | 11/8/2020
Every season, Liverpool v. Manchester City matches are circled on my calendar right away. Not because this is some sort of new derby, but because these matches always have some sort of say in the final standings of the season. Action-packed and high intensity (Ed. – at least the first half), the match yesterday was no different than any of the matches we have seen over the past few seasons.
To start, both goalies have to be commended for keeping the score line to 1-1. With a drenched pitch, balls start to move differently and it makes a goalie’s job much harder than it already is. So props to both keepers for their impressive play throughout the match.
In terms of actual match analysis, there is a lot to cover. 13 minutes into the match, Mane was taken down in the box, the clearest penalty of the entire match. Mo Salah did what Mo Salah always does – executes a clinical penalty – and Liverpool go up 1-0. For the next 20 minutes or so Liverpool looked in control of the match. Kevin de Bruyne played a peach of a ball into the back post that Raheem Sterling, who inevitably messed up, but Liverpool dominated otherwise. Then something clicked, and City started to find their confidence.
I think the biggest problem Liverpool had yesterday was in the midfield. This is usually a three-man operation, but with both Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota both in the starting XI, that became two. When you lose someone in the middle of the park, there is going to be room available for your opponent to exploit, and that is exactly what Manchester City did. They were able to pull Gini Wijanldum out of position, which allowed de Bruyne to fill that void. Once de Bruyne has that type of space in the middle of the park, the only thing left to do is hope and pray. In one instance, de Bruyne was able to find Gabriel Jesus, and by either luck or a great touch (which Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher discussed at length after the goal), Jesus wriggled free and only needed to toe-poke it past Alisson. The score line was level at one apiece.
There was one moment in the remainder of the match that really stuck out to me. Unsurprisingly, it was another controversial VAR call against Liverpool. VAR ambushed the Reds yet again by calling a handball on Joe Gomez. Without question, this was a terrible call. I suppose we are going to have to have defenders tie their arms behind their backs, because VAR is going to award any type of handball, no matter how unintentional it was. I long for the days where VAR wasn’t the defining force in the Premier League.
Moving on from my little rant, the penalty was given and Kevin de Bruyne pulls it wide. I guess the old adage of “ball doesn’t lie” really is true. An undeserved penalty is pulled wide, and a sigh of relief comes from Liverpool fans everywhere. The rest of the match had its moments, but nothing was as flashy as the first half. It seemed as if both teams wanted to only do just enough to secure the draw. Both Liverpool and City had multiple chances to take the lead and hold on to it, but no one seemed to be able to take them.
There were a few positives that came out of the match against City. Our defense – without Virgil – still looks good. Holding a very potent attacking team to one goal is a great sign. It is hard to determine how much of that is a result of the center backs versus Alisson, but regardless the backline looks solid as ever. That has to leave Liverpool fans feeling great moving forward.
The next positive in Diogo Jota. Me oh my, this kid looks dangerous every time he touches the ball. With a Champions League hat trick and great performances in the league, this kid has to be one of the first names on the team sheet.
The one downside to Jota’s excellence is where that leaves Firmino. At this point, it is hard to argue for Firmino over Jota, but maybe the challenge will cause Bobby to train harder and we will see his form improve.
Well, Reds, it seems like Klopp has the boys running on all cylinders, they look dangerous as ever. I am happy that I am finally back to writing. Hope you are all staying safe. YNWA!
PS: If you have Instagram, the Wingmen show with Trent and Andy Robertson is a MUST WATCH!