So, it’s official, Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool honeymoon is over. Man City inflicted a 3-0 defeat and Liverpool’s heaviest defeat to the Citizen’s in 73 years.
It wasn’t just the 3-0 scoreline that will give the Reds boss a headache this evening, but the ease with which Man City controlled the game.
Add to that Javier Mascherano’s refusal to play which therefore forced the boss into a change of formation. With Christian Poulsen not considered fully fit, Hodgson was forced to opt for Steven Gerrard alongside Lucas Leiva in midfield and David Ngog partnering Fernando Torres up front.
The first half saw Ngog and Torres lacking in ability to hold the ball up – in Ngog’s case – and lacking in sharpness in Torres’ case.
City’s Adam Johnson was the tormentor in chief, going close from long range early on and creating the pass for debutant James Milner to cross for Gareth Barry to score the opener. The two former Aston Villa midfielders were both targets for Liverpool in the past but the Reds lack of money and City’s riches meant their destination ended up at the other end of the East Lancs Road.
City doubled their lead after the break, Carlos Tevez somehow being awarded the goal when there appeared little, if any, contact from the Argentine after Micah Richards rose to head goalwards from a corner.
City controlled the game, particularly in midfield where Yaya Toure, Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry protected the back four, allowing Milner and Johnson to support the effective Tevez. This was a tale of what could have been for Liverpool, watching so many players who were linked with moves to Anfield combine with great success.
It was Johnson who was later tripped by Skrtel for Tevez to slot home the penalty and make it 3-0 on 67 minutes.
City did have Joe Hart to thank for another cleansheet. He made an impressive double save to deny Ngog and then Torres after Gerrard had hit the post from 25 yards. It was all too little too late for the Reds though and City were always comfortable for the win.
Hodgson brought on youngster Dani Pacheco and Ryan Babel, with the latter forcing a save from Hart within minutes of his introduction.
The result and match showed Liverpool’s clear lack of depth and, not least, the ineffectiveness of the 442 formation against top sides. The Reds’ centre midfield was over-ran by City’s controlling midfielders and with Kuyt and Jovanovic failing to get into the game on either side this was a match Hodgson will want to learn from and move on from as soon as possible.
Next up is a trip to Turkey for the return leg of the Europa League qualifier with Trabzonspor on Thursday before West Brom visit Anfield on Sunday with the Reds looking for their first win of the season.
Man City: Hart, Richards, Toure. K., Kompany, Lescott, De Jong, Toure. Y. (Zabaleta 84), Barry, Johnson, Milner, Tevez (Jo 84)
Subs not used: Given, Wright-Phillips, Adebayor, Silva, Vieira
Goals: Barry 13, Tevez 52, 67
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Kuyt, Gerrard, Lucas, Jovanovic (Pacheco 86), Ngog, Torres (Babel 78)
Subs not used: Jones, Aurelio, Kyrgiakos, Rodriguez, Poulsen, Kyrgiakos
Referee: Phil Dowd