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Liverpool 1, Manchester City 4: Match Recap - Defense? What’s that?

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A fair first half performance is followed by woeful defending in the second half, for which the Reds are punished.

Liverpool v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

MANCHESTER CITY 4 - 1 LIVERPOOL

Manchester City: Ilkay Gundogan 49’ 73’, Raheem Sterling 76’, Phil Foden 83’
Liverpool: Salah 63’ (PEN)

Pre-Match

Today’s blockbuster Sunday clash against Manchester City sees Jurgen Klopp fielding what looks like the strongest lineup we could have at the moment with zero fit first-choice center-backs. Fabinho returns from injury (hurrah!) to partner Jordan Henderson in the back line. While both will be missed in midfield, fiery young Curtis Jones gets a start alongside Gini and Thiago in a creative midfield that will be keen to advance the ball as much as possible. Midfielders and Vibes FC reporting for duty. Ozan Kabak is on the bench so maybe we see a classic 68’ Klopp substitution for the young defender to breathe in some of that fresh Premier League air early in his Liverpool stint?

First Half

City kick off the first half setting a frenetic pace, and Liverpool don’t see quite enough of the ball, focusing more energy trying to match their press unsuccessfully. A heavy tackle by Thiago to Ilkay Gundogan sees a yellow card in the first couple of minutes. The game is stretched across both sides but City get in to Alisson’s box a few times, and the ball is scrambled away narrowly by the likes of Fabinho or Andy Robertson. For Liverpool, a chance at 23’ from a soaring cross by Trent is headed just over Ederson’s net by Sadio Mane, while Firmino’s right-footed strike off of a Ruben Dias clearance at 28’ is sharply flicked away as well. Liverpool eventually start gaining control - possession moves from about 36% to 81%. At 35’ Fabinho dangles his right leg whilst defending against Raheem Sterling in the box and Sterling goes to ground, leading to an immediate penalty - that Gundogan misses!

It’s been a half of sexy, athletic football and a great tactical battle between the two sides. The word “pirouette” has been thrown out at least once by commentators. Curtis Jones has been a standout player - being alert to City’s counter attacks and tracking back with impressive pace. Let’s have a goal though, Liverpool - or even two.

Second Half

The second half sees both teams resume the energetic pace, but Liverpool’s defence is caught out at 48’ when a quick one-touch sequence between Foden and Sterling is received by Gundogan and GOAL - he slots the ball into Alisson’s net. This is followed by GOALS at 73’, 76’ and 83’ by a rampant City, two of which are caused by catastrophic blunders by Alisson. The only saving grace has been Salah’s penalty following an arm pull by Ruben Dias at 63’. Klopp’s substitutes James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri aren’t able to bring it back for Liverpool either. The half ends 4-1 to Manchester City.

Final Thoughts

The first half saw a fairly matched performance between the two sides, and it looked like if any team can take on City in their current form it would be Liverpool. But our defensive sloppiness was eventually exposed and as has been said too many times today - City ‘smelled blood’. Fabinho looked rusty and Alisson was far from his reliable self. It’s a battle for the top four now and nothing more in the Premier League this season for the Reds.