Liverpool 0 – 0 Manchester City

Stalemate Between Title Contenders

Before the match I stressed how difficult it was to make a prediction for this game. But who would’ve thought it’d end in a 0-0 draw?

The biggest talking point will of course be Riyad Mahrez’s shocking penalty miss in the dying minutes. However, neither side truly did enough to deserve all three points and assert their dominance at the top of the table.

Liverpool now head into the international break tied with City and Chelsea on 20 points each.

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Player Ratings

Alisson – 8:

Another strong display from the Brazilian despite not being forced into too many saves. His distribution was mostly faultless, and he maintained his concentration well to keep a clean sheet after some challenging, if sporadic, saves.

It’s possible he had a hand in putting Mahrez off of his penalty, but regardless, he dived the right way and had the shot covered even if it managed to sneak under the crossbar.

Joe Gomez – 8:

Surprisingly, Gomez was played at right-back for the first time this year over Trent Alexander-Arnold.

It took Joe a while to grow into the role against such challenging opposition, but once he did, he owned Liverpool’s right edge. City’s flow down their left was stunted, and Joe’s crossing almost led to a few chances.

Dejan Lovren – (Man of the Match) 9:

If you don’t think Lovren was excellent, then you aren’t being honest and are still holding past mistakes against him.

You could argue he was fortunate to avoid giving away a penalty, but the referee made the right call. The fact is, Lovren was outstanding and completely outclassed the dangerous Gabriel Jesus when he was introduced.

Virgil van Dijk – 7.5:

VVD was on track for another outstanding performance before he dived in and needlessly brought down Leroy Sane in the box; almost costing his side the game.

Aside from this moment of madness though, he was extremely composed on the ball and didn’t give the City forwards more than a sniff at goal.

Andy Robertson – 7:

Robbo improved greatly on his recent performances, and in particular, he showed far greater skill on the ball at times.

One cracking pass through the middle completely caught the City defence napping, and nearly led to what would’ve been a winning goal for Mo Salah.

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Jordan Henderson – 8.5:

This was undoubtedly Hendo’s best game of the season. Aside from a few misplaced passes that put those around him under pressure, he was a consistent asset with and without the ball.

For the first time in a long while, Hendo put in a true captain’s display and his influence on the game was one of the main factors in Liverpool securing a result.

Gini Wijnaldum – 7.5:

There’s few players in the Premier League with a better touch than Gini. There was countless occasions when he was surrounded by City players and one simple flick or turn took three players out of the game.

That’s no easy feat when you consider the quality players he had to contend with on the day. Its just a shame that we weren’t at our attacking best to take advantage of this aspect of the Dutchman’s game.

James Milner – 6:

Milner was unfortunately forced off the pitch early with a hamstring injury, but hopefully he’ll be fine after the international break.

Before he came off he was solid but unspectacular, not doing much of note.

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Mo Salah – 7:

It’s still not quite happening for The Egyptian King. His movement was excellent despite being marked by the physically imposing Benjamin Mendy, and this led to a couple of half-chances which he failed to convert.

Hopefully he’ll come back refreshed after the break. Wish international teams would think more about their players and give the ones who need it a well earned rest.

Sadio Mane – 6:

Mane is another who would benefit from having a rest from international duty. It would help his club form which would in turn allow Senegal to get the best out of him.

To be fair to Mane, Kyle Walker can make any winger’s day miserable, but too often Mane’s touch was woeful.

Bobby Firmino – 6:

Bobby’s touch wasn’t at its best either. His pressing was excellent as usual, but he was unable to create much and was deservedly hooked for Daniel Sturridge.

Brazil and England’s national teams arrive back the latest out of any country, and this certainly won’t help Bobby get back to his best.

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Subs

Naby Keita – 6 (on for Milner 29′):

Keita was brought on to replace to injured Miler, but was unable to fill the ‘Ox role’ that many fans were hoping to see after its effectiveness against City last season.

Perhaps its still too soon for Naby, but fans still want to see more from him.

Daniel Sturridge – 6 (on for Firmino 72′):

Sturridge didn’t have much service after coming on as City gave a final push to win.

Although, he did have once chance to get a goal, but could only head Gomez’s cross straight at Ederson.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 8:

Klopp took some risks in this game, and for the most part they payed off.

Few were expecting Alexander-Arnold to be dropped to the bench, although in my Napoli review, I pointed out that City could target Trent due to his developing positional sense.

Putting Gomez in at right back worked well, and reintroducing Lovren certainly paid dividends. The only blemishes on Klopp’s game were the result and his failure to introduce Shaqiri despite Mane and Salah’s poor performances.

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Talking Points

Champions Fear Liverpool

It was clear from the get-go that City altered their tactics against Liverpool, which is not a regular occurance for a team that many consider to be the best in the world.

Pep Guardiola admitted as much after the game, saying “If you play so quick, they are much better than us. If it’s an open game against Liverpool, you don’t even have one chance, not even one percent.”

City were conservative attack and they were certainly more content with a draw than the hosts. But despite this, for the first 15 minutes, Liverpool put them on the back foot, resembling last season’s thrashings.

Missing Spark in Midfield

One of the major themes from those cracking games last season wasn’t just Liverpool’s sublime attack, it was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s presence in midfield and being able to slice through City.

His direct dribbling caused panic and opened up spaces for other players to run into. In this game, we were lacking any sort of drive from the midfield and too often were forced into trying to go over or around the City defence.

This isn’t an easy fix, as the Ox will likely miss the rest of the season. We’ll need Keita to step up and fill his shoes in order for us to regain this aspect of our game.

Defenders Steal the Show

In a game where all the hype and highlight packages surrounded both team’s attacking potency, it’s easy to forget that it was also a clash between the league’s two best defences.

On this occasion, it was the defenders who came out on top. This is partially due to the forwards misfiring, but you have to give credit where it’s due.

Last season, particularly in the first half of it, the equation was simple. If Liverpool’s attack didn’t click, we lost. Our defenders were virtually incapable of keeping a clean sheet, but that couldn’t be further from the truth these days. Our defence is regularly winning points for the team, and that was certainly the case against City.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog on 08/10/2018

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