We have become accustomed to some great matches over the years between Liverpool and Manchester City with the two teams have set a new standard in the Premier League. But as of the current campaign, whilst City is still flying high with star signing Erling Haaland breaking every record that seems to exist, Liverpool has had a less positive start to the footballing season and Mohamed Salah and their own star signing Darwin Núñez have yet to really hit the ground running.
Going into the game
Going into the game, much of the hype was around City and rightfully so. They have been the much better team this season and were clear favourites to win the tie. Although midweek results did go in the favour of Liverpool in terms of building confidence.
Liverpool was coming off the back of a 7-1 away win to Rangers in the Champions League which included a record six-minute hat trick from Salah, whereas City had been held to a 0-0 draw to FC Copenhagen. Although City was clearly playing with the game against Liverpool in mind with Haaland rested on the bench, and then things went downhill when Sergio Gómez was sent off from bringing down a player and preventing a goal-scoring opportunity.
Despite the fact they were coming off a win though, Liverpool has been racking up injuries forcing a much-changed side that saw Joe Gomez starting to the right of Virgil Van Dijk and James Milner playing at right back. They did however manage to put out a strong front line with Salah, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota starting.
But, with the squad’s released many may have thought the likes of Haaland and Foden who have been so devastating this season will have taken advantage of the makeshift defence.
How the game unfolded
As will have been expected, City dominated for large parts of the game. But Liverpool had their chances on the counter with Salah and co often looking like a threat when given the chance to break forward. But for much of the game, Liverpool was camped in their own half, and you could see a tactical change from their normal style. Yes, the high press was still there but not as intense, and every player would get back to make the lines tight and keep City’s chances to a minimum, and more importantly, made sure that Haaland didn’t have a sniff.
Gomez and Van Dijk did exceptionally well at centre-back and were clearing almost every ball that came into the box. The ones that made it through the pair fell into the safe hands of Allison each time. And despite being in his late 30s and Foden being nearly half his age, Milner pulled out the performance of a lifetime and he and Gomez snuffed out almost every opportunity that came down City’s left wing.
The game had a great flow to it as Anthony Taylor let play continue despite many niggly tackles that took place, some of which were clear fouls. However, decisions seemed fair in the first half in a game that was clearly as enjoyable to watch for the neutral as it was intense for the club’s supporters.
The two sides went in at half-time level, with neither side changing anything for the second half. The game restarted in very much the same way, although Liverpool looked the more dangerous at times. That was until City took the lead…temporarily. VAR decided that Haaland had fouled Fabinho in the build-up to the goal and Taylor went to the monitor and overturned his initial decision. If it hadn’t been stopped there, it may well have been ruled out for Haaland kicking the ball out of the hands of Allison as he tumbled over the keeper.
With the scores still Level, City kept pressing. However, despite forcing corners and set pieces, it was ultimately their own attack that would undo them. Allison claimed a whipped ball into the box from a set piece and spotted Salah up the field, quickly launching the ball into his path. Bringing the ball down and losing João Cancelo, Salah broke free and was one-on-one with Ederson for the second time in the game, the first Ederson getting a thumb to the ball to keep him out.
This time though there was no stopping Salah as he calmly placed the ball around the keeper and into the back of the net to give the reds a well-deserved lead. City then tried to turn up the pressure but Liverpool continued to counter through Salah and gave City some different problems with the introduction of Núñez and Fabio Carvalho, whilst Henderson replaced Fabinho in midfield.
City continued to knock on the door and will have hoped something would’ve come when there were six minutes of added time shown on the board at the end, which was extended even further when Jota pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury and had to be stretchered off. But despite the pressure, City couldn’t break down this resilient Liverpool side and Salah’s goal was enough to secure all three points for Liverpool
Catch Salah’s goal and the match highlights below:
What next for Liverpool and City?
For Liverpool, it’s a midweek fixture against West Ham. A win will see them go within seven points behind Manchester City and 11 points behind leaders Arsenal, who City will have been hoping to catch up with this week following the Gunners’ 1-0 win over Leeds.
City however will not play until the following weekend, with their mid-week game against Arsenal postponed. Instead, they host Brighton who had been high-flying this season until Graham Potter left for Chelsea.
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