If you are a Liverpool fan, today is one of those days for which you want to believe that it has not happened. If today a terrible in a Liverpool save in Football Manager, a fan would just cheat a little and restart the last saved game. But alas my fellow Reds fans, today Liverpool were walloped at the Etihaad by Manchester City and it is the reality, not a simulation game.
Today’s performance from the Reds was so abject that I really do not find too many positives to be taken from this game. But, Liverpool and the rest of the league can certainly learn a few things from today’s game. These are my top five.
Sergio Aguero Loves to Play Against Liverpool
The world knows that Sergio Aguero is one of the best players to play in the Premier League. Today he rubber stamped this fact by scoring his 124th goal in the competition. In doing this, he also became the highest scoring non-European in the league.
He loves to score in the Premier League, and he loves to score against Liverpool. In 11 Premier League appearance, Aguero has scored six goals (one today) against the Reds and provided two assists (one today). Pep should just ask him to imagine that his opponents are wearing Red in all the matches.
Manchester City and Gabriel Jesus Mean Business
Manchester City had a few minor hiccups in the first three games, but today they played as if they had ironed out any issues that had troubled them earlier games.
Their striker Gabriel Jesus also faced a few problems when he joined Manchester City last season. However, by today’s performance, he staked a claim to a starting spot in City’s eleven. He proved that Pep need not use only one striker per game. When Jesus and Aguero are playing like they did today, two strikers can excel in Pep’s teams.
Jurgen Klopp’s Records
Before today’s match, Jurgen Klopp had lost just one game to last season’s top six – against Manchester United in 2016. Before today, he also had the best record against Pep Guardiola. In ten matches against Pep, Klopp had won five and drawn one. Today’s game made that record a bit more balanced. His teams generally do not ship so many goals in a single match. Apparently, this is the first time a Klopp side has lost by five goals since his Mainz lost to Werder Bremen (1-6) several years ago. The point of these records is to highlight that Klopp is a great manager and will turn this around – Liverpool fans need to continue keeping the faith.
Liverpool’s Abysmal Defence
Yes, the Reds’ supporters should believe in their manager but should criticise him when he fields a team ill-suited to the opponents. Fans are still trying to guess the logic for making the defensive changes in today’s starting lineup. Joe Gomez, a more defensive full-back did not get to play and from Manchester City’s left Kevin De Bruyne provided two assists. Why did Klavan have to start when Dejan Lovren had Joe Matip had combined to provide the last few clean sheets? Not that without these changes Liverpool’s defence would have been a wall but the changes did amplify the inherent weaknesses that the Reds’ defence possesses. For this gaffe, Klopp has to accept the responsibility.
Intention and Eye-Focus Do Not Matter, Recklessness Does
The biggest controversy of the game was whether Sadio Mane deserved a red card for his high-boot on Manchester City goal keeper Ederson. I believe that yes, he deserved a straight red. The game’s rules are meant to prevent dangerous play and what Mane did was a dangerous thing for Ederson. Many Liverpool fans wanted the referee to consider that Mane was not malicious or the high-boot was an effort to reach the ball. They believe that because Mane was not looking at Ederson, it should have been a yellow card at the maximum.
I humbly differ. Mane should have tried to reach the ball through other means but raising a boot to an opponent’s face should get a straight red card, wherever on the field that happens.
It is a good thing for Liverpool’s team and fans that just in 4 days, they will be playing again, trying to put this defeat out of focus. Also, while the margin of defeat will always rankle, a defeat against a top-drawer side after being reduced to ten men is nothing to be ashamed of. They do not need to restart the save, and they can continue to believe.