Talking Points: Liverpool 0 Manchester City 0

A late Riyad Mahrez penalty miss ensured Liverpool were able to take a 0-0 draw away from their encounter against Man City at Anfield. Chances were few and far between for both sides thanks to some battling defending, with Mahrez blasting the game’s best opportunity miles over the bar.

Tweaked defence keeps City at bay…

It drew many surprised reactions from Liverpool supporters when the announcement came before kick-off that Dejan Lovren would be coming into the side for Trent Alexander-Arnold. Perhaps understandable given Trent’s workload in recent weeks at a young age, and the switch saw Joe Gomez move out of the position in which he has thrived this season and into right-back. A huge game to make such a change, but it worked nonetheless as Gomez was arguably man of the match as he nullified the likes of Raheem Sterling and Benjamin Mendy. Lovren was perhaps fortunate not to have given away a penalty for his first-half challenge on Sergio Aguero, but apart from that, he also played extremely well – emphasised by his crucial tackle on Gabriel Jesus. As has been the case of late, there wasn’t a great deal of support for the attack from the fullbacks, but that was understandable given City’s star-studded attack and quality in the final third. The clean sheet was well-earned and means the Reds have now kept 9 clean sheets in a row at Anfield in the Premier League.

Safe midfield starving attack of chances…

Don’t get me wrong, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum played well against City, and were part of the strong defensive display. But yet again the attack was starved of service, with the Liverpool midfield unable to provide the creativity and dynamism required to breach the City defence. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury is really hurting the Liverpool team in the creativity department, with him being one of the players who will run with the ball and look to be positive and aggressive with his passing and distribution. Naby Keita still clearly needs time as he was fairly quiet after he came on, but once he clicks he too should be able to help the attack find their form. Henderson isn’t known for his forward passing and neither is Wijnaldum, so it is actually little surprise that the attack is struggling when the midfield offers them little support.

Formation change needed after international break…

The first half against Southampton saw Jürgen Klopp utilise a 4-2-3-1, with Xherdan Shaqiri playing as the attacking midfielder behind Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah. Three goals were scored in that half of football, and Shaqiri was at the heart of it. After Liverpool return from the international break, they have a much easier run of games where maximum points need to be taken at every opportunity. Hence, the 4-2-3-1 needs to be revisited in the hope that it can solve the Reds’ attacking crisis. Mane, Salah and Firmino will obviously remain key to this, but Klopp then has the option of Shaqiri or Daniel Sturridge as the fourth attacker – a nice choice to have. An extra attacker on the field should help create and put away more scoring chances, and it would also be interesting to see what midfield pivot Klopp would opt for. Liverpool’s next two League games are against Huddersfield and Cardiff where attacking football needs to make a return, and 4-2-3-1 could be just the thing to make it happen.

Reds in strong position after tough and tiring run…  

Much was made about how tricky the Reds’ run of seven matches in between the two international breaks would be, and at the end of it, they have done fairly well. The opposition faced combined with the very little recovery time between each match has made things very difficult, so a return of three wins, two draws and two defeats is certainly something to work with. Tired legs have been seen in the last few games, and perhaps goes some way to explaining no wins in the last four, but with the two defeats coming in the two games that Liverpool supporters would have been most happy to lose, and five points taken from matches against Spurs, Chelsea and Man City, it has actually been a good run. Things get much easier in the following weeks, which will also mean Klopp will be more happy to rotate which should see performance levels increase even more. Level on points at the top of the table with Chelsea and City after the fixtures the Reds have had to start the season is a great achievement, and the wins will hopefully start to flow.

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