ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!?!? That was by far Liverpool’s best team performance of the season. A midfield and defensive unit that has regularly been shredded looked shockingly competent against the highest scoring attack in the lead. Much maligned players played nearly perfect matches. An attack that has looked disjointed and struggled to convert in key moments roared to life, and Mohamed Salah got the deserved goal when it was most needed.
Let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers from today’s match.
The Brazilian keeper was brilliant in net. He was aggressive closing down space, and made a couple of spectacular stops from close range to keep the clean sheet. He was also cool under pressure with the ball at his feet, as usual, and played a perfect ball forward to provide the assist for Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian King was much more involved today, playing more through the middle than we’ve seen much of this season. Despite being consistently manhandled, and not getting the calls for blatant fouls, Salah kept battling and finally rolled João Cancelo with a great turn near midfield before streaking forward with the ball and calmly finishing past Ederson.
The big talking points pre-match were all about what type of patchwork defense would Jürgen Klopp roll out with Joël Matip, Ibrahima Konaté, and Trent Alexander-Arnold all expected to miss out. Joe Gomez pushed inside to center back with James Milner getting the start at right back, which did not exactly fill most Liverpool fans with confidence. Both players, along with Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson, didn’t put a foot wrong all match. The defensive unit did a fantastic job tracking runners, as well as covering for each other when someone else stepped out to the ball. Facing a Manchester City attack that had scored 23 goals through 9 matches, Liverpool limited the easy chances that City have thrived on.
Special shoutout for Jota here. He’s not a player you seem to notice all that much unless he pops up in the box for a goal. He doesn’t have the same electric pace as Mo or Luis Diaz, and doesn’t have the flair of Roberto Firmino, but Jota quietly is much more involved than you would initially believe. He led the team in key passes with four, and also led the team with five tackles. He’s become very effective in his pressing, and is one of the better ball progressors on the dribble on the team.
Liverpool have conceded early so often at home this season that it has been hard for the crowd to really get going. Today, the Reds were strong from the off, and the Anfield faithful were loud and raucous. It was honestly the loudest I can remember hearing the stadium in quite a while, befitting of the match on hand.
He gets so rattled at Anfield, it’s glorious!
#MCFC boss Pep Guardiola when asked about his team's disallowed goal replies: "This is Anfield"— Ian Doyle (@IanDoyleSport) October 16, 2022
It feels weird to talk about refereeing after a massive win, but unfortunately there was another disastrous performance from the man in the middle. From the first few minutes, Taylor let it be known that he was perfectly happy to let blatant fouls go for both teams, despite many of them happening right in front of him. Thankfully for Liverpool, VAR intervened to take away a Manchester City goal for an obvious foul by Erling Haaland.
I understand there is a directive to “let the game flow”, but most of these were not marginal calls, but people (mainly Mohamed Salah) getting slung down by their shirts. It boiled over when Salah was again blatantly pulled down by Bernardo Silva in the attacking third with no call, leading to a Manchester City counter instead. Klopp was incensed, and let the linesman know it. Taylor came to the sideline and sent Klopp off for the last 10 minutes of the match.
Silva: "What we expect from the referees is consistency. When you go through a path of not whistling little contacts throughout the whole game you have to keep those decisions and to keep it that way. If you want consistency you cannot whistle just because it is a goal." [Sky] pic.twitter.com/S9WxntGxfq— DaveOCKOP (@DaveOCKOP) October 16, 2022
From The Manager
This was for us obviously big. We know how strong the opponent is. We showed up today. That’s what we wanted to do.
- Jürgen Klopp
What Happens Next
Liverpool’s insane run of nine fixtures in the month of October continues on Wednesday when as the Reds host West Ham. It’s a chance for Liverpool to build some momentum and go after three consecutive wins for the first time this season.