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“Fair” result, squad depth & title push? – Last word on Man City 1-1 Liverpool

Liverpool grabbed themselves a well-earned point at the Etihad to keep within touching distance of league leaders Man City in the weekend’s early kickoff.

The Reds were forced to come from behind when Erling Haaland struck first for the hosts within half an hour, but a brilliant Trent Alexander-Arnold strike late on ensured the spoils were shared.

It means Jurgen Klopp‘s side are just a point behind last season’s champions, with a third of the Premier League season already played.

Adam Beattie (@beatts94) and Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) are here for a debrief after what was a stressful but ultimately satisfactory afternoon in Manchester.

 

The Etihad is never an easy place to go to, was the draw a fair result all things considered?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Manchester City's manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola speaks with Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp after the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

HENRY: Absolutely. I don’t think either side were at their very best, which was only natural given the kickoff time, and the fact that it was straight after an international break.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t enjoy a second of it. It felt so tight and always looked as though the result could hinge on one moment of magic or an error, that last-gasp Haaland header had shades of Gudjohnsen in 2005 about it.

Liverpool did excellently overall, though – they were playing a team who have literally won every game this year! We shouldn’t forget that.

Some could argue that Man City maybe deserved to edge it, but on the balance of things, I really do think 1-1 was completely fair, and we limited them to few good chances.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold (L) and Manchester City's Jérémy Doku during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ADAM: I agree with that. We were good value for the goal and once we got it both sides looked relatively content to come away with the draw, but for a few late scares.

We improved with each change we made and that has been a bit of a theme in recent weeks, they will probably be frustrated that they didn’t hang on but nicking it in that manner will do us no harm in terms of momentum.

Everybody I spoke to this week said they’d take a draw and this is probably the only stadium where that is ever the case, it feels bigger and better than just the mere point itself.

 

The substitutes made an impact again, how pleasing is it to be able to bring on that sort of quality from the bench?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Liverpool's Luis Diaz (R) is challenged by Manchester City's Phil Foden during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ADAM: To see the teamsheet and look at the likes of Luis Diaz and Ryan Gravenberch on the bench without batting an eyelid is an extremely lucky position to be in.

The manager has used his five substitutes really effectively this season and that is great to see, it wasn’t always the case last season but we’re seeing just how useful it can be when you get it right.

What makes that easier is having the depth of quality to compete at the very top, we’re reaping the benefits of that at the moment.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Liverpool's Harvey Elliott during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

HENRY: The difference it makes is absolutely huge, and it’s part of the reason why Liverpool can count themselves as genuine title challengers this season.

I remember in the past, the Reds would so often have a brilliant XI, but the drop-off after that was painful to watch.

The 2008/09 season stands out – David N’Gog wasn’t going to help pip that Man United side to the title! – and even in Klopp’s earlier years, there was so much onus on Salah, Mane and Firmino staying fit.

Now, almost every substitute looks like a top-quality option, and it can make all the difference against tiring legs.

Harvey Elliott has been great off the bench numerous times this season, helping change games, while Gravenberch was excellent at City, beating Rodri and breaking the lines for Trent’s goal.

Cody Gakpo’s run to create space for him to shoot also shouldn’t go unnoticed, and he is another brilliant player who was good off the bench.

 

How do you view our title credentials in light of what we saw against the league leaders?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez after the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ADAM: Anybody in their right mind would’ve taken this position after 13 games back in the summer.

I never felt like defeat would have been a disaster on Saturday, what comes next was always going to be more defining for us and we’ve got a run of winnable games to look forward to now.

This is a team that looks to be growing with each passing challenge, and if we keep all the key men fit there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t stick with Man City until the bitter end once more.

Just don’t let us lose this league by a point again, I can’t face the idea of that Diaz disallowed goal at Tottenham being the thing that costs us!

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker (L) and Brazil international team-mate Manchester City's goalkeeper Ederson Santana de Moraes after the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

HENRY: I think to go to City and draw, in what was a horrible time to play them because of internationals and the kickoff time, shows that Liverpool have to be considered title contenders.

Are they the perfect Reds side of 2018-2020? No. But City also don’t look quite as awe-inspiring as they have in the past, and Arsenal are winning games but not looking convincing.

I definitely make City favourites, especially as they seem to win every game after Christmas and Kevin De Bruyne will no doubt be unstoppable when he returns, but Liverpool have a really good chance if they can retain this consistency.

They need to shore things up further at the back, though, and cut out the sloppy goals – Alisson, Trent, Szoboszlai, Van Dijk and Matip were all questionable for Haaland’s opener on Saturday – but there is definitely something brewing at the club.

 

Finally, who was man of the match for you?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates after scoring the first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

HENRY: I might actually go for Matip, who I thought was brilliant all afternoon, and is deservedly keeping Konate out at the moment.

Trent was good, too, even though he wasn’t perfect up against Doku, while Tsimikas, Van Dijk and Mac Allister are worthy of a mention as well.

ADAM: I’d probably go with Trent despite him not being great for their goal.

He’s a generational talent and I’m pleased it was him who got the equaliser, it will give him a bit of vindication after what has been a great start to the season for him.

To be honest, he deserves it for that celebration alone!