MANCHESTER CITY 1 - 1 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool: Salah 11’ (pen)
Manchester City: Jesus 30’
Today’s away game at Manchester City feels momentous because well, it’s Manchester City, and also ordinary, due to our recent run of form despite all the setbacks. City is currently placed 12th in the league, with a game in hand. Our lineup is a 4...2-2-2?? Super newbie Diogo Jota features alongside the Salah-Mane-Firmino trio (I guess Bobby Firmino hasn’t lost all ability to play football after all). The backline is probably our best and senior-most version of itself right now, with Joel Matip returning from injury to pair with Joe Gomez. As always, we would like goals. And our last Premier League clean sheet was in September, against Chelsea. So, one of those today would be nice. Up the Reds!
The game kicks off with the best of both teams’ possession game on display. City are known for their stylish football, but Liverpool’s movements are slick as well, and the ball is regained swiftly once lost. Salah and Firmino look dangerous, and overall Liverpool has shown greater attacking intent in the first ten minutes. 11’ and Kyle Walker nudges Mane in the box and concedes a penalty, which is converted into a GOAL! by Salah.
A rare Gini Wijnaldum error around 25’ sees Sterling attempting to capitalize on a pass from De Bruyne, but Alisson saves at close range. At 30’ another Kevin De Bruyne pass is slipped past Matip and Trent by Gabriel Jesus, and slotted into the net just out of reach of Alisson’s fingers. GOAL! to City. There wasn’t much anyone could’ve done to save that. City is warming up and taking control of the game with 57% possession. Yet another De Bruyne pass into the box hits Gomez’s left arm at 39’, conceding a penalty due to handball - probably deserved that. De Bruyne rolls it wide however and misses the penalty! He’s still their key playmaker, and is receiving far too much space and seeing too much of the ball for my liking.
Two shots on target by each team, 6 attempts by Liverpool and 4 by City - a game of almost equals. Tactical, cool, entertaining football. Don’t drop points here though, Liverpool.
The second half starts off stretched with action in both boxes, and both Ederson and Alisson being forced into making vital saves. Both teams seem to be playing sans a dominant midfield for some reason. At 58’ we see a surprising sub - Xherdan Shaqiri comes on for Bobby Firmino, perhaps to inject a refreshed approach to breaking through City’s ranks. Jota slots into Firmino’s position behind Salah. At around 61’, Trent deals with a calf issue and is replaced by James Milner. The initial dynamism of the game has gone flat with Trent and Firmino missing. Liverpool looks tired and their touches are heavier. They’re sitting back and letting City dominate in stretches, hoping to hit them on the counter, but are unsuccessful.
A beautiful first half, followed by a listless and joyless second. Liverpool’s early momentum deflated very quickly once a few key parts of their machinery were replaced. Fingers remain crossed that the injury to Trent is not serious - if our centre-half backups are few, the options at right-back are even more sparse. Hopefully the upcoming international break will offer a moment’s breather to sort some of this out.