Observations from Liverpool's 1-1 draw at the Etihad
Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City at the Etihad is one of those results which divides fans.
If you’re a glass half-full type of person then it’s a point gained away to a rival and a positive performance to go alongside it. If you’re a little more cynical then it’s two points dropped in the hunt for Champions League football and there are concerns over the team’s mentality.
The Reds started off slowly but grew into the game and became the dominant team as the first-half wore on. They were unlucky not to be awarded two penalties after a tangle of legs between Nicolas Otamendi and Sadio Mane before Yaya Toure suplexed Gini Wijnaldum to the ground. However, referee Michael Oliver waved appeals away.
He did eventually point to the spot after Gael Clichy responded to being caught out of possession by kicking Roberto Firmino in and around his head. James Milner, as always, fired home comfortably and Jurgen Klopp’s men had a lead to defend.
The Man City onslaught was inevitable and the Liverpool defence couldn’t withstand the barrage. Sergio Aguero poked home a superb Kevin De Bruyne cross. That’s how it finished after both teams fluffed chances to win it.
Here are the observations from the draw.
Emre Can is bossing the midfield once again
The German has been at the centre of a lot of criticism lately after uninspiring performances and the situation surrounding his contract. However, since stepping in to replace the injured Jordan Henderson at the heart of the midfield he’s managed to build up some momentum and recapture last season’s form.
He was impressive against Arsenal and Burnley before putting in a dominant performance at the Etihad. He was switched on defensively and showed his class going forward with a ball to Firmino which lead to the penalty. There was a lot of talk when it was revealed Henderson was injured that Liverpool would suffer, many dredged up stats showing that without our captain the Reds just don’t perform but seven points from matches against Arsenal, Burnley and City isn’t a bad return.
Who would’ve thought that all he needed was a consistent run of games in a set position?
Ragnar Klavan, starting ahead of Dejan Lovren, looked a little uneasy all throughout the 90 minutes and always looked capable of gifting the opposition a chance. There seems to be a pattern in the Estonian’s game. He looks accomplished for a few matches before looking like he’s a boxer in the final round of a match having taken a few blows to the head.
On one hand he’s not the most consistent but on the other he’s less of a danger than Lovren, at least that’s the general consensus from many fans. So what does Klopp do for the derby? Lovren or Klavan. Which is the lesser evil?
Liverpool aren’t prolific enough
An imposing performance from the attack players in red yet just the one goal to show for it. The team may be the top scorers in the Premier League but are they dominant enough? They don’t appear to be, with players missing some gilt-edged chances. Firmino blazed one effort wide and hit one straight at Willy Caballero when he had to score. Coutinho blasted one over the bar when he should have been at least hitting the target. Lallana failed to connect with Firmino’s pull-back for what would have been a simple tap-in to put the team ahead. Even Mane, the clubs top scorer this season, wasted chances. Will they be rued come the end of the season?