Trailing league leaders Manchester City by a solitary point, Premier League title aspirants Liverpool made the trip to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon (10 April).
The Reds came into the match on the back of 10 consecutive victories in the league, knowing that a win would propel them to the top of the table. Defending champions City, on the other hand, wanted security going into the final stretch of the 2021-22 season.
With neither party surrendering an inch of space, Sunday’s blockbuster turned out to be a closely-contested 2-2 draw. While Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus were the scorers for the hosts, Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane found the back of the net for the Merseyside giants at the Etihad.
Playing at home, the Cityzens started the match with vigor and carved open the visitors’ defense only after five minutes of play. Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker rushed off his line to stop Raheem Sterling from wheeling away in celebration. Unfortunately for him, City managed to keep the attack alive and ultimately got the goal a few seconds later. De Bruyne’s ambitious shot from range took a massive deflection off Joel Matip and eluded the Brazilian shot-stopper.
The hosts continued to dominate proceedings, but a clever counter-attack from Liverpool saw them restore parity. Diogo Jota applied the finishing touch following a clever cutback by Trent Alexander-Arnold. The two top dogs in the Premier League continued to trade punches, with Manchester City often landing the bigger blows. In the 36th minute, the home team once again pulled ahead, with Jesus applying a clever finish after beating the offside trap.
The Merseysiders improved markedly after the break and equalized emphatically through Sadio Mane within a minute of the restart. The Senegalese forward made a clever run to get to Mohamed Salah’s delivery and applied a composed finish to draw the Reds level. City got the ball into the back of the net in the 64th minute, but it was ultimately adjudged to be offside by the VAR. Manchester City substitute Riyad Mahrez had a golden opportunity to win the game in the final minute of injury time, but his lobbed effort was wayward.
Following the stalemate, Liverpool remain in second place, a point behind table-toppers City. With only seven games to play, the Merseysiders need at least a slip-up from Pep Guardiola’s side to have a shot at winning the title this season.
Here are three Reds players who disappointed and two who lived up to the mark at the Etihad on Sunday:
Even though his assist to Diogo Jota was superb, we didn’t think Trent Alexander-Arnold did justice to his “best right-back in the world” tag on Sunday.
Especially at the back, he was all over the place and was largely at fault for Jesus’ goal. The Manchester City forward comfortably evaded him, beat the offside trap and applied a clever finish to put his side 2-1 ahead in the 37th minute.
Alexander-Arnold also misplaced quite a few passes as he had just 65.8 percent accuracy, lost six of his 10 duels, and ceded possession 19 times. He played only one key pass while neither of his crosses reached their target.
Fabinho is the glue that holds the Liverpool team together and, unfortunately, he failed to bring the cohesion he generally does on Sunday afternoon.
Against Manchester City, Fabinho struggled to control the midfield, especially in the first half, misplacing passes and losing most of his duels. His long-ball distribution was not great either and he lost possession quite frequently. The Brazil international also committed a cynical foul on Bernardo Silva in the 83rd minute and was lucky to get away with only a yellow card.
Against City, the Brazilian made 42 passes with 76.4 percent accuracy, misplaced six of his nine long balls, played no key passes, and lost six ground duels. He also lost possession 14 times, committed two fouls, and was dribbled past thrice.
It does feel odd to call one of last night’s goalscorers an underperformer, but we believe Diogo Jota did not quite live up to the billing. His shot, which led to the Reds’ opener, was hit straight at Ederson, but the Brazilian couldn’t close his legs in time to save it.
Just before half-time, Jota was played through by Jordan Henderson, but his hesitancy allowed Aymeric Laporte to slide in and dispossess him. Again, in the 53rd minute, Jota was played through on goal by Salah, but his finishing was poor, allowing Ederson to collect the ball easily.
Apart from the goal, Jota was barely involved in the game. He only had a passing accuracy of 53.3 percent, lost six of his eight duels, lost possession 11 times, and struggled to retain the ball. Surely not his brightest performance in a Liverpool shirt.