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Five Things Learned: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester City (Premier League)



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A massive error from Nathan Ake and Ederson allowed Liverpool back into Sunday afternoon’s match as Manchester City left Anfield with a draw to stay within one point of the summit.

John Stones and Alexis Mac Allister were the goal scorers in a thrilling 1-1 draw on Merseyside, which has become the standard result whenever Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have faced off as of late.

Manchester City started strong, like in so many of these matches over the years. After creating a flurry of chances in the opening minutes, City took the lead in the 23rd when a well-worked corner routine allowed John Stones to break the deadlock with a tap-in. 

The goal was set-up by Nathan Ake boxing out a Liverpool defender to give Stones acres of space. It was timed perfectly by Kevin De Bruyne, who fired the ball low and to the near post directly into the path of Stones.

Manchester City went into half-time with the lead, and much like the match-up two years ago, Liverpool grabbed an equaliser moments into the second half. Two years ago it was a mental lapse by Kyle Walker than allowed Sadio Mane in behind for an easy finish.

This time it was a poor back pass by Ake, followed by a terrible foul on Darwin Nunez by Ederson that gave Liverpool a penalty less than 90 seconds in the second half. Alexis Mac Allister stepped up and converted from the spot to draw Liverpool level. From this moment, the rest of the second half was nearly all Liverpool. 

Pep Guardiola replaced Julian Alvarez and Kevin De Bruyne with Jeremy Doku and Matteo Kovacic in the 69th minute, which brought some calmness to City’s attack. It led to City’s best chance of the half when Doku’s shot hit the inside of the post in the 89th minute, only to roll back into the hands of the goalkeeper. 

However, the drama wasn’t over. In the eighth minute of additional time, a high boot from Doku caught Mac Allister in the chest inside the City box. But after a lengthy VAR review, no penalty was awarded and City escaped with a draw.

It was a somewhat undeserved point from the viewpoint of many Manchester City fans, that fortunately kept the reigning Premier League champions and their title hopes very much alive. 

Here are the five things learned from Manchester City’s draw at Anfield!

Pep is right: Julian Alvarez can’t play on the wing

Pep Guardiola has lamented time and time again that Julian Alvarez is not a winger. That’s all well and good, except for the fact that Alvarez was deployed on the wing for the first time in a potential title decider at one of the most difficult grounds to play at in all of Europe.

And Pep was right! The Argentine lost possession 15 times in the first half, far and away the most of any other player on the pitch and he completed less than 60% of his passes. It felt like watching the worse bits of Jeremy Doku, without any of the positives. 

It felt even worse in the second half and it was a deserved early exit for Julian Alvarez. Hopefully that’s an experiment we’ll never again. 

Once again Pep’s obsession with control proves to be right

It’s been talked about for almost four years now: Pep Guardiola requires his players to control the game. It’s what has made Jack Grealish (when healthy) a constant starter.

However, that becomes incredibly difficult to do when you combine playing against an aggressive Liverpool press, without Grealish, and when Julian Alvarez and Kevin De Bruyne both have their worst performances of the season.

They appeared to be giving the ball away for fun at times, and it’s no surprise that the team looked much better once Mateo Kovacic and Jeremy Doku came on. 

John Stones stays irreplaceable

Solid at the back, stepping up and masquerading as a midfield maestro, and scoring clutch goals. This has become the standard set by John Stones in the last few years and once again he was the best Manchester City player on the pitch.

It’s a shame that he has been injury riddled so far this season. But if he continues this form, and more importantly his fitness throughout the rest of the season, then Manchester City may still prevail. 

Dropping Ruben Dias is a risk not worth taking

While it ended up not being the reason for Manchester City conceding, our defence did seem to struggle without Ruben Dias in the line-up. While this hasn’t been the best season at times for the Portuguese defender, his absence was clearly felt. 

Liverpool completely tore through City’s defensive line in both halves. The Blues’ defensive structure often times looked porous, out of position and lacking communication. Manuel Akanji has played well this month, and his pace would help in transitions, but this didn’t appear to work. 

Ederson will always have these mistakes in him

I am an Ederson defender. I think Stefan Ortega is a very good keeper, and could unfortunately be sold at the end of this season because of it. Ederson has shown massive improvements over the last 12 months and has made some massive saves throughout the season. 

However, there are still so many moments where he makes the worst decision possible. The foul on Darwin Nunez is the epitome of this. He was so comically late to the ball it’s baffling he decided to follow through with his kick. 

If Ederson is truly out for a few weeks, it will hopefully be a net positive. Some time away to heal and get his mind right should be a good thing. Ortega is good, and he will play well during some important matches, which will only force Ederson to continue to step up his game.