Man City 1-1 Liverpool
Premier League (13), Etihad Stadium
November 25, 2023
Goals: Haaland 27′; Alexander-Arnold 80′
Alisson Becker – 7 (out of 10)
A sloppy pass out early on to Foden went unpunished.
However, Ali’s footwork was far from perfect in the first half and it was his third indiscretion which proved costly ultimately; a slip on a long kick-out saw it come straight back via the unchallenged Nathan Ake, who played in Erling Haaland to score.
Alisson got one hand to it, but shouldn’t really have even needed to face that shot, a goal of Liverpool’s own making.
A good save low to his left from Foden before the break and a massive stop from close range much later in the game to keep us within one.
What’s with his kicking though?! Two more late scares because of it.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8 – Man of the Match
Negated as an attacking force by Jeremy Doku’s ongoing threat, outside of one bursting run near the interval.
Understandably had his hands full with the tricky Belgian and rarely won an individual battle – but the bigger issue was him not making a tackle on Ake as he waltzed towards the penalty box for the opener.
Set pieces were poor, but he had another attacking trick up his sleeve: for the first time in the match he got forward in a central area, took a touch and lashed one bottom corner too equalise.
Joel Matip – 8
A surging run from deep opened the first chance of the game for the Reds. Probably the best individual defender in the first half, with a couple of important challenges on Doku in particular.
Our big centre-back got pulled up a couple of times by the ref, mostly in error, and he remained the biggest frustration to the hosts for the majority of the game.
Virgil van Dijk – 8
A good start defensively but between himself and Matip they needed to be better for the goal, with a gap far too big between them to allow Haaland in unchallenged.
Did pretty well in his direct battles with the Norwegian, which was far from a constant theme of the game, and won lots of aerials and clearances.
Kostas Tsimikas – 7
Other than a habit of sprinting forward ten yards to contest aerial balls he couldn’t possibly win, and thereby leaving a massive gap behind himself, the Greek left-back fared pretty well in the first half. Kept it very safe in possession.
No real errors and not beaten excessively down his flank. Happy perhaps that City targeted the opposite side of the pitch mostly.
Alexis Mac Allister – 6
About what you’d expect: on the ball pretty good, off the ball looked a level below his most energetic and was run off the ball too often.
Swamped at times in central zones and will never have recovery pace to play as a last-ditch man tracking back once attackers go past him. Lucky not to be booked more than once in truth.
Dominik Szoboszlai – 6
Like Jones, got a few earfuls from the boss over a lack of positional perfection, but was often the spearpoint for some incisive passing into the final third which otherwise was sorely lacking from the Reds.
One or two chances looked like he could shoot from range but opted against. Slightly surprising he was replaced for the final 20 minutes but he didn’t play anywhere near his best.
Curtis Jones – 6
Very calm under pressure. Too calm? You decide, but a six-yard back-pass to Ali which wasn’t 100 per cent accurate might have been costly another time.
For the most part, a very solid return to the lineup though, controlled through the centre and forward-looking on the ball. A few nice turns in good areas, too.
But Klopp was frequently displeased with both No.8s, yelling at them from the touchline, and Jones made way in a double sub before ten minutes of the second half had been played.
Mohamed Salah – 7
An odd sort of involved/not involved game. On the one hand he was always there to take possession and drive forward, and a few first touches were immaculate – plus he teed up a couple of good chances for Nunez.
On the other hand, he never went close to scoring himself, couldn’t beat Ake at all in one v one situations and was a bit too easily outmuscled near the touchline by City’s defenders.
Settled the good-or-not-good debate of the day by notching yet another assist, setting up Trent’s equaliser.
Darwin Nunez – 6
Early work rate on show to make up for easily ceding possession. Had a header tipped away by Ederson but then spurned a great chance to shoot moments later when played in on the edge of the box.
The most direct outlet as usual, tested City’s keeper with a near-post shot and booked for tripping Foden.
Argued with Guardiola at the end, which perhaps should earn him an extra point here.
Diogo Jota – 5
A total non-entity in the first half here and went off injured within eight minutes of the restart.
He needs to start influencing games more when he starts. Too often looks weak physically in duels.
Ryan Gravenberch (on for Jones, 54′) – 7 – Some big runs through the middle and involved in the build-up to the equaliser.
Luis Diaz (on for Jota, 54′) – 6 – Not hugely involved other than helping Foden win an Oscar for best acting.
Cody Gakpo (on for Szoboszlai, 72′) – 5 – Didn’t do too much but did barge Ake over one occasion.
Wataru Endo (on for Mac Allister, 83′) – n/a – Booked for taking down Doku, which is good enough.
Harvey Elliott (on for Nunez, 83′) – n/a – Didn’t win those aerials against Ake we bizarrely kept offering him.
Subs not used: Names here Kelleher, Konate, Quansah, Gomez
Jurgen Klopp – 8
No real surprises in the lineup, unless the surprise is that he went with a “normal” alignment rather than a more pragmatic centre of the park, perhaps.
The boss was as animated in the first half as he has been for most of the season; Szoboszlai and Jones seemed to bear the brunt of it but Trent and the forwards were not exempt from his attentions either.
The boss had spoken of the importance of the team being compact in his pre-match press conference and that was clearly on show.
Any negative moments were due to individual lapses in concentration.
Jurgen didn’t hang around with his substitutions but none really had much impact, being like for like in tactical terms but not an improvement in physical or technical terms.
This wasn’t honestly a game where individuals, gameplans or much else “managerial” had any say in the eventual outcome, just tiny moments from players getting things right or wrong, the margins which matter, essentially.
Jurgen’s plan was to keep us in it and keep us competitive; we were, we take a point.
The first team not to lose at the Etihad in 2023, shows how big of a point this was.