Liverpool: Mane 59’, Salah 76’
Manchester City: Foden 69’, De Bruyne 81’
Liverpool gear up to face their fellow title contenders - Manchester City - at home in Anfield. City had a bit of a wobble mid-week, losing 2-0 to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. So, for narrative purposes, they’ll either return today and perform with ruthless edge, or will overthink every move with their confidence dented. Who’s to say - I do hope it’s the latter though.
Liverpool are missing Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, and James Milner will fill in. Joe Gomez is on the bench as well, and could offer back-up. Divock Origi seems to be missing the game due to illness.
The two sides kick off on a tentative note sizing each other up. The typical speedy passing and fluidity is missing from the game but Liverpool outnumber City on attempts at getting into the box and City struggle to get on top. Henderson plays a more advanced role in the absence of Bobby Firmino, and Joel Matip plays a key passing role in delivering the ball from the back and pinging it with precision up the pitch.
After the first 20 minutes however City start to warm up and find their footing, making use of set pieces and dead ball situations. Around 20’, Bernardo Silva slithers past a number of Liverpool players in midfield in a series of pirouettes and pings the ball to Phil Foden who directs it towards the net, but Alisson saves it just in time. Alisson comes to the rescue a number of times in the second half of the first half as Liverpool lose possession at key moments, and also any momentum they’d gathered in the opening minutes of the game. If this sluggish performance continues, it could spell trouble for the Reds as City are sure to catch them napping.
Liverpool look more composed and energetic in the second half, and also try to retain possession. A rapid counter attack around 58’ by Salah leads to some great footwork, and he picks out Sadio Mane up front, who zigs and zags and slides it past Ederson - GOAL! Bobby Firmino is subbed on, and shortly after at 68’, City respond with a slick team move that ends with Phil Foden drilling the ball with precision past Alisson - GOAL. At 76’, Mo Salah receives a pass from Curtis Jones, and takes a run at a crowd of City defenders, twists, turns and slots the ball into the net in a way that only Mo Salah can - GOAL! A brilliant solo effort. Kevin De Bruyne responds four minutes later by starting off a pass from midfield, that lands up with Foden, and then falls at De Bruyne’s feet once again and is kicked into Alisson’s net by him - GOAL. Around 86’, an almost-goal by Fabinho from a set piece, is scrambled out of the way by Rodri, denying the goal. The half ends 2-2.
Final Thoughts and Man of the Match
Jurgen Klopp could be accused of ‘overthinking’ his lineup in typical Pep Guardiola fashion by initially benching Firmino for this crucial game. City lacked their ruthless edge at first, but caught up with their organized play and lighting-fast breaks. Liverpool looked more composed in the second half, and Mo Salah’s individual brilliance, coupled with Sadio Mane’s awareness and finishing on his goal carried the Reds through. They have shown that they are up for the title challenge this year despite shouts about a lack of depth, but they will probably do it in the hardest possible way as Liverpool does.
Liverpool’s Man of the Match vs. Manchester City
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