Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool: Winners and losers as Reds grind out impressive point

Klopp nails his tactical battle with Guardiola as Liverpool put an end to their poor Etihad form. OLIVER LAWRENSON picks out the Reds’ winners and losers from the game.

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Liverpool walked away from Manchester with a well-earned point after a battling performance against a star-studded Manchester City on Sunday evening.

With this game regarded as the hardest of the season for Liverpool, many thought it would be the case of a counter attack job for the Reds. However, after dominating the first half, Klopp will have been slightly frustrated with how his side wasn’t winning by a couple of goals at the interval. Apart from the Gabriel Jesus goal and the De Bruyne missed penalty, City lacked any threat in the first half, whilst the Reds forwards missed several chances.

This changed in the second half as Liverpool defended deep for long periods, with Manchester City taking control of the game. This brought the best defensively out of some of Klopp’s players, as a compact formation nullified any genuine opportunities for the Cityzens during this period. 


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If a point was offered before the game, I think most Liverpool fans would have taken it. The result leaves the Reds third in the table, but in a really good position to build a string of positive results over the winter period.

Klopp made two changes from the side that defeated Atalanta on Tuesday night. Roberto Firmino returned to the starting line-up for youngster Curtis Jones whilst Rhys Williams was left out of the matchday squad completely, with a fully fit Joël Matip taking his place alongside Joe Gomez at the heart of the defence. 

Here are my winners and losers from the game: 

Winners

Jordan Henderson

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The best player on the park and by some margin. No other player, from either side, came close to the English international with his composure, reading of the game and leadership shining throughout the game. 

It was a masterful display as he kept his team disciplined and engaged, with the consistent threat that a team like Manchester City carries never wavering from his thoughts. Even when many players were visibly tired, you could hear Henderson screaming at his colleagues to push harder whilst he took the lead in pursuit of the ball. 

His passing was on point, always finding his man and giving them it in a position of strength to move forward. He won every battle with Rodri and Gündoğan, who both ended up playing as centre backs at times so they could get the ball.  

What epitomised his display was a 40-yard run he made to shut down Aymeric Laporte in the last ten minutes of the game. With Salah out of position and a clear shortage defensively down the right-hand side, Henderson recognised this and made the energy sapping effort to force the Frenchman back to his goalkeeper. He then returned to his midfield position ready for the next phase of the game. 

You can only respect this man for what he does for this football club. You cannot doubt his effort ever and he is now delivering world class performances on a consistent basis. It is scary to think that he is even better than he was last season. With him at the helm of this team, I am always confident that a positive result is coming.

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Alisson

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Another player who I always believe, that with him in goal, Liverpool will always come out with a positive result in any game. Like Tuesday night against Atalanta, he was hardly required, but when he was called into action, he did everything brilliantly. 

His reading of the game was the focal point in this fixture. His distribution was perfect, always finding his intended target even with the high press from Manchester City. The saves he made won’t create many headlines but were done correctly and efficiently, never giving an inch to the Blues to pounce on.  

His stand out moments however were his adventures outside the area. With the goalkeeper nowadays needing to do more than just save efforts, reading danger beyond the confines of the box is now a key skill to have, with Manuel Neuer making a career out of it. Alisson has made this a staple of his game since his move to Anfield, with a couple of 30-yard dashes during this game to head the ball away from danger, key to the solid looking backline Liverpool displayed during this clash. 

The only blemish on his performance will be the Jesus goal, which he had no chance of saving. It was a great finish from his international compatriot, who after the game made it clear that it isn’t an easy task beating the former A.S. Roma man between the sticks.

It was another subtle and composed display from the Brazilian who won’t necessarily get the plaudits for his performance in this fixture, however this just shows how good he really his. Having him fit for the entire season is a must if Liverpool are to keep clean sheets and to challenge for major silverware come the end of the season. 

Losers

Gini Wijnaldum

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The Dutch international didn’t actually have a bad game and was pretty solid when he was doing his defensive work alongside Henderson. Unfortunately, it was his build up play and passing going the other way which lands him in this spot.  

His passing seriously hampered any offensive play that he was trying to contribute to. He struggled to find team mates consistently and would lose possession in key areas of the pitch. This put unnecessary pressure on the Reds backline who would back him up by regaining possession without anything major developing. 

The 29-year-old did make a major mistake however that the defence could not recover from. With Liverpool starting to press the ball, City bypassed this initial front line and got the ball out wide to Kyle Walker. With the midfield stretched and Sadio Mané stuck up the pitch, Wijnaldum went out to meet the right-back, leaving De Bruyne on his own in the middle. 

This proved costly as the ball found its way to the Belgian, who played it into Gabriel Jesus before the Brazilian dispatched it beyond the helpless Alisson. This moment in the game was an unfortunate defining moment that cost the Reds the win. However, it is something that can be easily rectified. 

This performance shouldn’t be seen as a negative at all as it was generally a positive display from the Oranje player. For the vast majority of the game, he was asked to defend and he did that brilliantly, breaking up play on several occasions and getting to De Bruyne, who was visibly frustrated.

His main problem will be the return of Thiago and Fabinho to full fitness, who will both be looking to start against Leicester once the international break comes to an end. With these two world class players available for selection once again, Klopp will have a major decision on his hands and will see Wijnaldum battling for his starting berth once again.


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