Manchester City 3
Aguero (10), Y Toure (33), Milner (pen) (75)
Regardless of what you think about Luis Suarez, innocence or otherwise, I guess no player is bigger than Liverpool FC. Thus it is no surprise that the club have taken the pragmatic route designed to protect its reputation by deciding not to appeal against the FA’s punishment. It didn’t stop us issuing a defiant statement as if this is going make anyone think any different of them.
More about this in a later piece however, in terms of games missed, starting Suarez’s eight game ban now seems to be the best strategy. He will only miss a maximum of four Premiership games possibly even less depending how we do in the FA Cup – we might hold Oldham at Anfield and have to replay at their place don’t laugh, how many times have we drawn at home?
Because we had decided on this course of action Suarez didn’t play in this game and won’t for the next seven games after this. Kuyt was bought in making a five a man midfield, just as we had for the home game with City, with Carroll on his own up front.
It was a game of three mistakes for which we were deservedly punished. Despite dominating for long periods, well holding the ball a lot and passing it around nicely we failed to make this count in terms meaningful chances. This was in contrast to City who bided their time and when the opportunities arose, took them.
The first goal was an early blow. It punched a hole in our tactics which were probably to keep the ball and frustrate City for as long a possible. However, you can’t legislate for Kuyt losing the ball in a vital area and then Reina diving over Aguero’s shot. The ball dipped but nonetheless Reina should have got something on it and normally you would bet your mortgage on him doing so.
Before the goal Downing had a decent one on one with Hart, the City keeper blocked when really he shouldn’t have sniffed it. After this and the goal we dominated. We were patient perhaps overly so preferring to push the ball around in pleasing little patterns hoping for an opening to magically appear, it didn’t. Adam’s fee kick and Henderson’s low shot were only efforts of note and none of these really troubled City. I guess at 0-0 this would have been encouraging, stifle the home side, draw their sting, frustrate the crowd and so on however, at 1-0 down, and even at this early stage, City could afford to be more defence minded making it harder for us to break through, perhaps we should have introduced a tad more directness into the mix?
Who knows perhaps this approach might have eventually paid dividends but after the second goal the writing was on the wall. Again Glen Johnson’s defensive weakness exposed for umpteenth time. Having a cleared a corner from the right we failed to learn from this, Milner sent it over from the left, Johnson lost Yaya Toure and by the time he’d made up ground and tried to stop him the ball was sailing past Reina. What can I say about Johnson in defence that I haven’t said before? Nothing apart from not good enough, sorry but look at the goals conceded since he’s joined us that have been down him, it’s a long list.
We desperately needed a goal before half time to get back into the game and valiantly tried to get it however, Adam, Downing and Kuyt to some extent are all hewn from the same cast. They labour well, get in the right positions but together they lack creatively, a certain spark to turn a game through and inspired piece of skill and oh and all three, lack real pace so it was inevitable that Kenny should turn to Bellamy and Gerrard. Meanwhile Andy Carroll, remember him, cut a lonely figure up front not through any particular fault of his own, at least he knows he’ll get seven more goes!
Bellamy and Gerrard tried to make inroads and for the briefest of moments hopes were raised after Barry was sent off for two yellow cards. At last a chance to stretch City and try and get back into the game however before that thought could be properly mulled over Skrtel upended Yaya Toure. Milner gave Reina no chance with the penalty and that, despite a few chances at the end from Maxi and Downing, was that.
Manchester City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Clichy, K Toure, Milner, Barry, Silva , Lescott 76), Y Toure, Dzeko, Aguero (Johnson 71), Substitutes: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Lescott, Kolarov, Savic, Johnson, De Jong
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Agger, Skrtel, Henderson, Downing, Spearing (Maxi 76), Adam (Gerrard 57), Carroll, Kuyt (Bellamy 57) Substitutes: Doni, Carragher, Kelly, Gerrard, Maxi, Shelvey, Bellamy