Manchester City 4-0 Liverpool: Winners and losers from a lacklustre Etihad performance

Liverpool were brought back down to earth after a sombre display against the former champions. OLIVER LAWRENSON picks out the Reds’ winners and losers from the game.

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Liverpool are Premier League champions but looked far from the team who secured the title this season after a punishing defeat to Pep Guardiola’s side on Thursday night.

The majority of the team were well below par after a week of celebrations, but a couple of Reds showed positive glimpses at the Etihad.

Here are the Liverpool winners and losers from the game:


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Winners

Mohamed Salah

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The Egyptian didn’t get a goal but his willingness to give his all even when the rest of the side was failing around him was impressive. His attitude throughout the 90 minutes was unquestionable, consistently driving the side forward and providing an outlet for his teammates.

During the first quarter of the game we saw Salah at his best. Every time he had the ball, he would attack Benjamin Mendy, exposing the Frenchman’s shortcomings. The greatest example of this came when he struck the post 20 minutes in – after dancing inside past the left-back and Aymeric Laporte, only the foot of Ederson’s post denied the Egyptian.

His defensive work was also impressive helping Alexander-Arnold on several occasions to subdue a handful of swift counter-attacks from Manchester City. His performance won’t grab the headlines but he deserves credit for the way he went about his evening’s work.

Naby Keïta

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It may be near the end of the season but it feels like Keïta needs to show over these last few fixtures that he can be a reliable player in the Liverpool midfield. Tonight, was a start for the Guinean as his performance was one of the positives to come out of the game. 

Coming on just after the hour mark, he possessed an aura of calmness even when everything around him was crumbling. The confidence he had in possession was a breath of fresh air and a brighter area for Liverpool fans to focus on during this result. Even with the minimal playing time he managed to complete more final-third passes than any other player on the pitch.

This is another positive step for the former RB Leipzig player and hopefully, with the league wrapped up, Keïta will get more game time before the end of season in preparation for the big title defence next season.

Losers

Joe Gomez

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This was the first time the 23-year-old has lost a Premier League match since he was 20. It was an evening he will want to forget quite quickly. His partnership with Virgil van Dijk has been something that most Liverpool fans have seen blossom within the side over the last couple of seasons, but it was like they were strangers here.

During his 45 minutes on the pitch – he was hooked at half-time – his synchronicity with the rest of the back line was completely off. Signs of Gomez’ uncomfortable evening came early on with van Dijk and the offside flag sparing the Englishman’s blushes on several occasions. However, once the tussle with Raheem Sterling for the penalty had gone against him, his evening would go steeply downhill.

After getting too tight to Sterling again, the winger would make the young centre back pay with a sharp shift inside before finishing between Gomez’ legs. His evening would finish with an inability to dictate play at all against Jesus as the Brazilian would beat him to several decisive pieces of possession.

Klopp spared him from anymore torment by bringing him off for Oxlade-Chamberlain during the interval. It was a rough night for Joe and many supporters hope this performance will be just a one off.

Andrew Robertson

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As much as the result was surprising, the Scotsman’s own performance was just as out-of-character. The normally reliable left-back had a day to forget as he, like Gomez, had a nightmare.

For the majority of the evening Robertson was chasing the shadow of Phil Foden. The winger used his creativity on several occasions to leave the left-back stranded and out of the picture in many of Manchester City’s attacks. This included a very uncharacteristic defensive lapse when the Scot left space in behind for Foden to slip in and score the Citizens’ third after failing to tackle him earlier in the move.

He was not much better going the other way. A consistent lack of quality on any of the crosses he put into the box was not helping the forwards, whilst his usual galloping runs down the left flank were limited due to his worries about the counter-attack and, more specifically, the impressive Foden.

This was a performance many fans are not used to seeing from the former Hull City player since his move to Merseyside, but it is one many will want him to put right in the next fixture. It wouldn’t be all that surprising to see James Milner start in his place at the weekend.

Roberto Firmino

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Since the return of competitive football the Brazilian has been a bystander for the most part and never more so than in this fixture. He looked lethargic during his time on the pitch and did not contribute anything positive to the game itself. 

Liverpool’s No.9 has been impressive in away fixtures this season, with the majority of his goals coming away from Anfield. At no point did he look like the player we have become accustomed to seeing here though – the man who normally glues everything together in the forward line was consistently breaking it up, losing possession at several key moments and having a detrimental effect on the side.

Firmino has had a slow return to action and will be looking to improve upon these recent performances quite rapidly. With Takumi Minamino looking for more game time in that false nine position, it might be the case that Firmino’s might be under threat for the remainder of the season.

This could provide the Brazilian with the rest needed to bounce back and start providing the performances we are used to seeing.


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