Liverweb Match Report
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Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2The Reds played out a 2-2 draw in their first home league game of the season. My over-riding feeling at the end of this one as well was that it was two points dropped because I thought we played really well and their equaliser was avoidable on so many levels but what's done is done and we really need to look at how we played as a side.
Raheem Sterling kept his place in the starting line up and it was therefore his first start in the league for us and he lasted the full ninety. Just as importantly he never hid away in the game and tried to do exactly what he does best and get beyond people.
As we lost last week and we were the last game of the weekend we came in to the game bottom of the league but of course league tables never count this early in the season as one result can propel you up and down the table. A win would actually have put us in the top half of the table as it turned out but there's another 36 games to worry about first before getting too hung up on it all.
The sides were out and Steven Gerrard lost the toss allowing Kompany to switch the sides around. It meant we attacked the Kop in the first half of the game and so the action got underway.
The game was only a couple of minutes old when Lucas seemed to get a bang in the thigh and you could see straight away that he was going to be out. Jonjo Shelvey was sent straight down the line to get ready and with only five minutes on the clock the switch was made. Lucas went straight down the tunnel for treatment although he did return to the bench about five or ten minutes later so I can only hope it's a strain/knock rather than a serious one.
On the pitch itself I thought City settled quickest and looked snappier in the early stages of the game. They press hard on you when they lose the ball and it meant for a high tempo to the game which we got to the pace of easily enough.
City should have taken the lead in the game when Tevez was played in behind Johnson and Skrtel but after rounding Reina he pushed the ball goalwards from a very tight angle and it trickled across the goal line, hit the far post and came back in to play and Reina was back across quickly enough to gather the ball as if nothing had happened. t was a huge let off for us I thought and it certainly woke us up fully.
We gradually started to become the better footballing side for me now and although neither keeper had too much to do in the game we always looked slightly more attack minded. My only concern at times was when Suarez was dropping out of the middle to get the ball we then had no one in the middle to receive anything we put in to the middle so we often didn't put it in as a result.
The goal came just after the half hour mark for the Reds and what a header when it came. A Gerrard cross was sliced over his own bar by Kompany with Joe Hart at full acrobatic tilt just in case. Gerrard went across to take the corner which he planted right on the six yard box centre goal. Martin Skrtel had managed to get a run on his man and powered the ball past Hart who had no chance. The header was so powerful the ball flew back out.
The goal ensured the Reds went in at half time one up and overall you were happy with the way things had gone - the only two worries was the Lucas injury and Tevez hitting the post but otherwise we had settled well and had stuck to a proper plan. All the players seemed to know and understand what they should be doing in general.
A few of the Reds subs were out going through their paces at half time to ensure they were ready for the action if they got the call.
We started the second half well and Suarez nearly scored a few minutes in to the half but scuffed his shot just wide of the far post after we had intercepted a loose ball at the halfway line. It was clipped through Kompany's legs but Suarez didn't seem to get hold of the shot and although he put it beyond Hart it was also beyond the far post. That could have put a firm hold on the game for the Reds to me and made it far more difficult for City.
City threw on ex-blue Rodwell for Nasri just before the hour mark and then just after it put on Dzeko for Balotelli who had been relatively anonymous.
City equalised shortly after their second sub was made and it was unlucky from a Reds point of view. Tevez stood the cross up and it was just beyond Skrtel and Reina. As it fell over them Martin Kelly was at the back post and in trying to control the ball it bounced off his knee and gave Yaya Toure the chance he needed to poke the ball home. I don't think Kelly had expected the ball to go beyond Reina and the bounce proved unfortunate.
The Reds got the game started again and there was plenty of time but you could see belief in the players as well that they could go and score again - no heads dropping that the reigning champions had pegged us back and that's a major positive to look at.
We went straight on the attack and when Steven Gerrard shot on goal Rodwell slid in with his arms in the air to block the shot a free kick was given. Yes I've seen it again and it flew of his leg to hit his arm but his arms were up interfering the ball so a free kick was spot on. Martin Kelly was replaced at this point as well with Enrique replacing him - I hope it was planned before their goal and not as a result of it as that would have been cruel.
Back to the free kick and despite moans from de Jong the decision was made and Gerrard and Suarez lined up the shot. Hart lined up the wall and got himself ready. Suarez stepped up and bent a superb shot around the wall and inside the post with the smallest of margins for error to give the Reds an instant lead back. I've seen replays again of the goal and the bend he got on the ball as well as pace to squeeze it in at the post was stunning and worthy of a winner.
I really thought we could win the game from here and possibly even three one rather than just holding on. David Silva was sent on for them and I have to say I'm surprised he didn't start the game as the las has so much class about his play. Their loss though and we only need to worry about our play really.
Yaya Toure was down injured and Reina put the ball out of play to allow him some treatment. He ultimately didn't need the treatment and the ball was sent back to Reina by them. He rolled the ball out to Skrtel wide on the left side and he was looking for a pass. As he was closed down, rather than moving the ball up the pitch he turned and put in a back pass which was light and too near the edge of the area. It allowed Tevez to nip in and slot home with Skrtel left holding his head in his hands. He knew his mistake straight away and that ultimately cost us the two points but we kept our shape and belief that we could still win it and to be honest you could feel a goal was there if we could get the right move. Andy Carroll was sent on for the final minutes as we looked to grab it and to b honest if any side would get it then it was going to be us as I never thought City looked quite likely too.
Ultimately the goal never came and the only thing we got as time ticked away was a yellow card to Suarez - the ref had no choice in the end as Luis had been going round throwing his arms in the air at virtually every decision going. In fairness to Luis though he did have a point at the end when Sterling was taken out from behind and the ref waved play on. Suarez went mental and the ref went to his pocket.
The final whistle went and we had to settle for a point in the end which I feel gutted about and that's a positive thing to say. I thought our game looked good for huge periods of it and if we continue to play like that we'll certainly go places this year. After the loss last week this gets the optimism back about the play. We were a bit unfortunate last week and again this week but there are so many positives to look at that I can see good things coming.
Man of the Match - Joe Allen - thought he played superbly well in the midfield and rarely put a foot wrong. You can see why Rodgers was eager to get him up to Anfield.
Joe Allen completed 93% of his passes which was the highest of the starting XI
Opposition form summary coming in to the match
Average Age of Starting Line-up - 24.5
Position at Start of match day - 20 / Opposition Position at Start of match day - 6
League Stats at end of match day
Programme Price £3
Match number 5 of the season
Domestic Match number 2 of the season
Premiership Match number 2 of the season
Premiership Match number 774 of all time
League Match number 4298 of all time (excludes war time and Lancashire League)
Top Flight League Match number 3870 of all time (includes original Division 1 and Premiership)
Match number 5314 of all time (excludes war time matches and Friendly/Testimonials)
Match number 164 against Manchester City
Home Match number 82 against Manchester City
League Match number 151 against Manchester City
League Home Match number 76 against Manchester City
Premiership Match number 31 against Manchester City
Premiership Home Match number 16 against Manchester City