Liverpool ended their goalless streak at Anfield with a penalty but the losing run goes on and the title defence is all but over after a 4-1 hammering by Man City.
Liverpool 1-4 Manchester City
Premier League, Anfield
7 February 2021
Goals: Salah (pen) 62′; Gundogan 48′ 73′, Sterling 76′, Foden 82′
Alisson – 3 (out of 10)
Made a good save from Foden initially but couldn’t prevent the rebound going in for the opener.
Then erred horribly with the ball at his feet, got away with it, then immediately made another horrendous pass which led straight to City’s second. Rinse and repeat for 3-1.
An error can be overlooked but learning is imperative – he has to get the second one safe.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
Very much involved in the Reds’ best play in the first half. A few dangerous crosses but also some good defensive work one-on-one with Sterling.
However, twice he was dribbled past far too easily: once for the pen, once for the goal. After that he stood up well to Sterling again, and also annoyed Ederson near the end, so plus points for that.
Fabinho – 4
Very silly to give away the pen. A few decent aerial wins and his playing out was fine, of course, but nowhere near as imperious as he has been.
Was skinned by Foden down the right, then couldn’t stop the cutback for 2-1. Was miles away from peak sharpness and fitness but clearly the decision was taken that the game was big enough to warrant risking him being thrown in.
Jordan Henderson – 5
Sensible passing most of the time, but a little more adventurous when he had the chance and wasn’t afraid to dribble out of the back either.
One-on-one his defending wasn’t great, but that’s to be expected. Has done well filling in but was nowhere near true centre-back level against elite level, in-form attackers like Foden on the dribble.
Cannot wait to see him back in midfield, soon, please.
Andy Robertson – 5
Kept making himself available on the overlap but his final pass was off-kilter. Once or twice failed to stop Mahrez getting into good positions which was mildly problematic.
Not aggressive enough and looks short of his best level for a few weeks now.
Definitely one of the players suffering most with fatigue, evidenced by being subbed late on for Kostas Tsimikas.
Curtis Jones – 7 – Man of the Match
Unquestionably the best player of the first 45 minutes for the Reds, with some clever work on the ball but also a few really good defensive moments, the biggest of which was his covering run to stop Foden going through one-on-one from the halfway line.
Almost found an equaliser with a low shot, deflected just wide.
Unlucky to be subbed – and Liverpool completely lost control of midfield after he was.
Thiago Alcantara – 6
Early foul and card, then a few hold-your-breath moments afterwards on subsequent tackles. That reckless early booking possibly affected his game thereafter.
Some decent passing on show at times but nothing which threatened to unlock the City defence.
Subbed after we equalised, which just handed City the initiative.
Gini Wijnaldum – 6
Hard-working, reliable on the ball and excellent at getting away from two or three challenges at once, but too often didn’t have runners in front of him to turn counters into actual attacks.
Had him as a ‘7’ up until 2-1, but then the game totally passed him by as the Reds fall away in desperate fashion… again, after the removal of Jones and Thiago when Liverpool’s midfield went AWOL.
Mohamed Salah – 7
Kind of looked a danger early on, yet wasn’t – sometimes as the pass into him was slow and sloppy, and other times because his own touch took him away from goal. Was definitely ‘in the game’ as Jurgen says, working to get into good positions or win back possession, but nothing of note fell his way.
So what does Mo do? Make the goal himself. Won the ball, won the foul, buried the penalty.
Roberto Firmino – 6
Busy and looked to link play when he could, but it wasn’t hugely effective the majority of the time.
His half-volley on target was good, but never truly looked like it would beat the keeper – a bit of a metaphor for his all-round performance.
If we aren’t pressing as a team, or attacking unit, Firmino’s role is almost redundant.
Sadio Mane – 5
Another key player returning from injury, Mane was busy but lacking a bit of a first touch at times after a couple of games out. Headed a great chance over the bar with the Reds’ first effort of the game.
Did make one critical recovery run on the hour to stop City having an easy pass and run in on goal.
James Milner (on for Jones, 67′) – 5 – Seemed to be wide left most of the time. No impact from there.
Kostas Tsimikas (on for Robertson, 84′) – n/a – Good to see he still exists.
Jurgen Klopp – 4
Opted for Jones over Milner and brought back the fit-again trio of Ali, Fab and Sadio. None of those choices could reasonably be argued against pre-kick-off, but Fabinho definitely didn’t look fully fit.
Was Alisson fully over his illness? Easy to ask that question now after that performance, but as Kelleher wasn’t on the bench the alternative would be Adrian starting – so which goalkeeper would fans have picked? Klopp can’t really be held accountable for what happened afterwards.
That said, the sub of Milner for Jones appeared a fearful one, to be blunt, and Liverpool didn’t create another chance after Thiago and Jones left the pitch. City scored twice within eight minutes of the double sub.
Klopp can’t be blamed for Ali’s passing. But there was zero response to 2-1, no change to combat City starting to run riot in that period and, over the longer period of the last month at the very least, no real upturn in fortunes – especially at Anfield.
Three home defeats in a row is a once-in-a-half-century occurrence for Liverpool. It needs fixing, fast.