The Reds gave it their all in a pulsating clash at the Etihad, but they were outplayed by the champions and never quite managed to find top gear.
With the match finely poised, Leroy Sane’s shot found its way in via a slight deflection off Trent Alexander-Arnold, as City narrowed the gap on Liverpool to four points.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side got no luck on the night, with Vincent Kompany fortunate not to be sent-off and John Stones miraculously clearing the ball off the line at 0-0.
The vital factor for Liverpool now is that they bounce back immediately and prove they are worthy of being champions in May.
It was no surprise to see many of the post-match verdicts focusing on Dejan Lovren (4.7)—the lowest-rated player overall—who endured a horrible evening.
The Croatian played a negative role in both City goals and he was an erratic presence throughout, ultimately proving key to the final outcome.
Anfield Index’s Oliver Emmerson‘s frustration was plain, saying Lovren was “slow for the first goal, goes walkabout for the second after playing Sterling onside and is unlucky not to complete his hat-trick of s***e as he conjures the worst attempt at playing Sergio Aguero offside the Argentinian has ever seen.”
This is Anfield’s Henry Jackson summed it up by saying Lovren is “far from a bad player, but he isn’t, and never will be, the solution at Liverpool.”
Virgil van Dijk (7.5), on the other hand, was the Reds’ best and highest-rated player at the Etihad, with the gulf in class between him and Lovren entirely apparent.
The Liverpool Echo‘s Ian Doyle claimed he was “solid whenever Aguero ventured into his area,” while the Mirror‘s David Maddock said he was “colossal” at the heart of the defence.
James Milner‘s (5.8) inclusion was arguably a mistake by Klopp in hindsight, with many of the opinion that the veteran was never quite at the races against his former club.
The Anfield Wrap’s Ben Johnson felt the midfielder “looked knackered” and Emmerson described it as “madness” that he started a game of such magnitude, having been sidelined through injury previously.
There was also praise for Liverpool’s second-best performer Andy Robertson (7.4), who continues to churn out displays at such a high level almost every week.
Jackson believed the Scot “got the better of former Liverpool man Raheem Sterling”, while Maddock thought his influence increased when Klopp switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Expect many changes for that game, with the trip to Brighton a week on Saturday taking precedence.