Talking Points: Manchester City 5, Liverpool 0

10 men Liverpool were torn apart by Manchester City at the Etihad, with the home side taking full advantage of Sadio Mane’s extremely controversial 37th minute red card. Sergio Agüero scored against the run of play to give his team the lead pre-red card, and post-red card braces from Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane ensured a stomping victory for City.

Mane red card completely changes the game…

I’m not going to go into detail about it. What was built up as a entertaining and mouth-watering encounter for neutrals was simply ruined by a refereeing decision. Whether it was the correct decision has caused much debate. From the rules of the game it is probably a red card, but from a common sense point of view a yellow card and free-kick would have been totally fair punishment. The bottom line is that Mane was sent off and it all went downhill from there for Klopp’s men.

However, the red card didn’t and doesn’t change the fact that…

Liverpool were and are nowhere near good enough defensively…

Klopp got it wrong from the start by playing Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ragnar Klavan over Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren respectively. Alexander-Arnold, whilst impressive going forwards, has plenty to learn still defensively and City took full advantage of this on a torrid day for the young Englishman. Gomez was very good against Arsenal, and was the much more sensible option at right-back in a game where you just needed your defenders to defend first and foremost. Klopp said Lovren was tired from his international exploits, but Klavan also played for his country during the break, and is clearly a much worse centre-back than the Croatian. But selection was only part of the problem though, and even the normally reliable Joel Matip was very poor. And even after Mane’s dismissal, a red card to one of your attackers is no excuse to continue to defend so badly. The only defence that can be offered to Liverpool is that Man City are an attacking unit of the highest order, and whilst mistakes such as ball watching and not tracking your man were made by the likes of Klavan, some of the goals such as Sane’s second were purely down to City’s brilliance going forwards and creativity from De Bruyne. But not signing a centre-back of quality in the summer window will result in Liverpool going another year without winning the league title, and Klopp must hope that his side can muster up some form of defensive resistance between now and the end of the season if they wish to achieve any forms of success.

Mo Salah must work on his finishing…

When Salah nipped the ball through Otamendi’s legs early on, it looked as though the Egyptian was in for a positive afternoon. His pace and movement was causing City all sorts of problems, and when he was put through on goal and given the chance to equalise, the game could have finished completely differently if he would have scored. Unfortunately, Salah didn’t take the chance – aiming his curved effort far too close to Ederson – and yet again squandered another glorious opportunity, a sight that has been too familiar this season. Of course Salah has still had a very good start to the season and it is better to be getting into scoring positions and missing than not getting into them at all, but the miss against City joins a growing list of chances that Salah needed to finish, but didn’t. Liverpool have had too many wingers in years gone by with not enough end product, and Salah needs to ensure he joins Mane on the list of success stories, and not the likes of Jordan Ibe.

It was and is not all doom and gloom for Liverpool…

Rival fans can mock the result all they want, but deep down they all know that up until the red card, it was a very even contest, and a contest that Liverpool could have certainly come out on top of. Liverpool looked in control in the opening 37 minutes, with Agüero’s goal coming out of nowhere. The Reds looked sharp in attack, and if they played the full game with 11 men they would have strongly believed they themselves could have scored plenty against a vulnerable looking City defence. Post-red card and most Liverpool players did put in very disappointing performances, but Simon Mignolet and Alberto Moreno can come out with their heads held high as the pair were the only men in red to offer some bright points. And despite the five goal margin, any team would have been battered by City’s attack if they were playing with 10 men. The result is undoubtedly a dreadful one, but the red card changed the game, and Liverpool must take the positives of the first 37 minutes into Wednesday’s game against Sevilla.

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Lewis Tizard

Hi I’m Lewis, lover of Sport and especially Liverpool FC. Believe I was put on this Earth to convince rival fans that Mamadou Sakho is a good footballer.
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Lewis Tizard

Hi I’m Lewis, lover of Sport and especially Liverpool FC. Believe I was put on this Earth to convince rival fans that Mamadou Sakho is a good footballer.

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