After all of the build up and analysis ahead of what many considered to be a title-deciding clash, Liverpool and Manchester City finally got to play the game on the field. It certainly did not start out how Liverpool fans might have hoped, with the Reds looking out of sorts and incapable from handling the Manchester City high press. Liverpool did manage several moments of brilliance, two of which lead to equalizers after falling behind, and on the whole were much improved in the second half.
In the end, the day started as it began, with Liverpool one point behind Manchester City in the table with everything left to play for. The quad is still alive for the Reds, though the margin for error as slim as ever.
Let’s take a look at some of the winners, losers, and other narratives around the game.
Teams do not come back against Manchester City to earn a point...that is until today. Prior to this game, Manchester City had won all 22 games in which they scored first this season.
1 - This game was the first time Manchester City had scored first and not gone on to win in the Premier League this season; they had won all 22 games when scoring first before today. Truce. pic.twitter.com/Jvnua3kyRx— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 10, 2022
Liverpool, however, found a way to come back not once, but twice to level the score. The Reds were much better in the second half, with the shared points being a fair result on the day.
Moments of Magic
While all goals count the same, they don’t all have the same cachet. Both goals for the Reds came from sensational, sweeping moves that are worthy of watching on repeat. The first came from yet another fullback to fullback pass, with Robertson sending the ball to Trent, who was able to knock the ball down and back for Diogo Jota ghosting into the box for the finish (say all you want about his inability to find a pass, the guy knows how to score a goal). The second came from a brilliant pass from “greedy” Mohamed Salah that perfectly found the run of Sadio Mané. While Liverpool were not at their best all game long, they still managed to create two beautifully constructed goal sequences.
Birthday Boy Sadio Mané
It wasn’t the greatest of starts on his 30th birthday as Mané struggled to get involved early in the game, though much of that came from his team’s inability to break the press and get the ball forward. As the game moved on, so did Mané’s influence. He struck early in the second half to even the score at 2-2 after making a great run on the far side of the play, showing great composure as he ran onto the ball at full speed and arrowed the ball past an onrushing Ederson into the far corner of the net. Mané has always been good on the run, but he showed off his vastly improved hold up play, especially when sliding into the middle after Luis Diaz came on.
Kevin de Bruyne
The Manchester City midfielder was a menace all game long. He scored the opener thanks to a wicked deflection off of Joel Matip, but he sent another shot whistling just past the post. His ability in transition is second to none, taking a few quick dribbles before springing an attack with perfectly weighted passes. He connected on four of six long passes, keeping the Liverpool defense on their heels. Most impressively, however, was the havock he created for Fabinho. De Bruyne never gave the Liverpool holding midfielder a second to breathe, forcing him into several uncharacteristic turnovers or rushed passes.
It was a struggle all day long for the lanky midfielder. Usually one who can always be counted on for his consistent play, he was put under pressure early and often, leading to several bad giveaways. He also took some uncharacteristically poor angles, leaving himself in a position where he had to foul rather than wall off an attacker as usually does.
Credit to the Opposition
Manchester City are known for their controlled approach to games, with good movement and passing between the lines to draw teams out and create overloads. Today, however, Pep Guardiola set his team up in a much more aggressive manner than we are used to. They were very efficient with their high press, and looked to beat Liverpool with long diagonals and through balls. Of all the teams Liverpool have played this season, Manchester City showed the greatest propensity for beating Liverpool’s high defensive line. It certainly seemed to surprise Jurgen and his crew as Manchester City dominated the first half.
What Happens Next
After a tense fixture in the Premier League, Liverpool will turn their attention back to advancing to the semifinals of the Champions League. The Reds will host Benfica in the second leg, holding a 3-1 advantage over the Portuguese side. With another match up with Manchester City in the FA Cup looming next weekend, however, Liverpool cannot fall into the trap of letting off against a Benfica side with nothing to lose.