The highly anticipated Manchester City vs. Liverpool match lived up to expectations. With so much on the line, it felt and played out like a heavyweight battle. A win for Liverpool, and their first Premier League title would all but be assured. A win by City, and we have a race.
In games like this, the little details matter. And this was a game of centimeters.
Jurgen Klopp (6) – A mixed bag from the Liverpool boss. Started the game with a conservative midfield line-up and 4-3-3 formation that felt like he was playing for a tie. In the second half, he made early adjustments, bringing on Fabinho (who should’ve started given recent form) and switching to a 4-2-3-1. That made an immediate difference, as Liverpool equalized and threatened more consistently.
Still, City out gengenpressed Liverpool throughout. Klopp was outdone by Pep in this one.
Alisson (7) – Conceded two goals but by no means where they all on him. Alisson made with two great saves and was solid distributing with his feet.
However, while he couldn’t do anything about Sergio Aguero’s ridiculous goal, when you know you have a mistake-prone center-back like Dejan Lovren, you need to stay on him and keep him alert. Alisson shoud’ve alerted Lovren of Aguero being on ground [whining for an underserved penalty] and absolutely been vocal after he got up.
The Leroy Sané goal isn’t on Alisson, and he was great getting to the ground and cutting off another Aguero shot in the 81st minute.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (5) – TAA was owned by Leroy Sané throughout. While he kept getting forward well on counters, his crosses didn’t find their mark often enough. He failed to give Salah support on a counter in the 55th that proved costly. However, his far post ball to Robertson that set up Liverpool’s goal was absurd.
Dejan Lovren (2) – Where to start.
For Liverpool fans, Lovren is like that sweet uncle who makes you cringe when talking politics, voted for Trump, yet can still make you laugh and is always ready to help you move furniture. Usually you take the bad with the good, knowing full well you’re definitely going to get the bad though.
Today was almost all bad. No jokes. No moving of furniture.
Outside of smartly-earned early yellow card, Lovren was a mistake-machine. He was lazy in not tracking Aguero [when he was whining for a pk he didn’t deserve] on the opening goal, turned the ball over constantly, and was poorly positioned on the Sané goal. This was a MLS-Quality performance.
When does Joe Gomez come back? Can somebody give him some deer antler spray?
Virgil van Dijk (9.5) – How good has VVD been this season?
Another rock solid performance from the center-back. He was also properly positioned, intercepting passes, squaring his body to cut off angles, or clearing crosses and passes with his head and feet. In one perfectly played example, he stayed on his feet in the box against an attacking Bernardo Silva early in the second half to eliminate a close range shot while avoiding a potential pk. He’s just awesome.
Andrew Robertson (9.5) – Speaking of awesome, Robertson stepped up in a big way today.
While City relentlessly attacked TAA and Lovren, Robbo ate Raheem Sterling’s lunch all game. It almost felt mean how much he dominated Raheem.
Nobody on Liverpool brings the ball down better than Robertson, and his flick to Firmino off TAA’s cross was perfect. Another assist for the Scotsman.
James Milner (5) – Hearing inexplicable boos everytime he touched the ball from City’s ingrateful fans, Milner had a fairly anonymous and unimpactful performance. Rightfully yanked early in the second half.
Georginio Wijnaldum (7) – Solid and strong throughout, with sparks of creativity. Active and playing with confidence right now. Could’ve attacked more consistently throughout the game though.
Jordan Henderson (6) – Not much to get excited or gripe about. Like with Gini, he could’ve forced the attack more, but he mostly neutralized City’s dangerous midfield.
Mohamed Salah (7) – Active though not always a threat, Salah attacked when he could and creatively tried to link up with his forward partners.
However, had he finished running through the chaos on John Stones’ epic goal-line clearance, Liverpool would’ve seen an early lead. Instead, he left his feet and missed a deflection chance.
Salah was robbed by a great Edersen save in the second half.
Roberto Firmino (7) – Didn’t see the ball much but was strong in possession when he did. Great finish on his equalizing goal. Bobby is definitely back.
Sadio Mane (6) – Was physically abused early but stayed aggressive. Problems with a poor first touch continue to plague him, as he struggles bringing the ball down and being too heavy on potential break-aways.
Fabinho (7) – Why didn’t he start? No seriously, why?
Fabinho has been in great form, and the game immediately changed when he came on. Only didn’t score higher due to a few errant passes towards the end of the game.
Xherdan Shaqiri (6) – No super-sub today. Poor quality on touches and passes throughout. He might’ve been pressing a bit too much.
Daniel Sturridge (NR) – Not on long enough to make an impact.