Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Live Thoughts: Manchester City vs Liverpool (Premier League)

I covered this match live. Here are my unedited thoughts on the Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool.

Hey there, thanks for joining me on another live thoughts feed. After a two match break (or 'ban', whatever word you prefer), I'm back. Before I get to the preview, let me talk about Suarez.

Just in case you didn't know, Liverpool are not to appeal against the Suarez ban. They're backing Suarez, are still showing the FA they're unhappy with the situation yet they're accepting of the ban for the good of football and the fight against racism. My thoughts? All in all I think Liverpool have done the right thing. They're standing ground in terms of their beliefs and support yet accepting of the situation, predominantly because everyone has been against their strong support of Suarez because the media are twisting that somehow as 'pro-racism'. It's not. It's pro-Suarez. Big difference. But still, it means we have no Suarez for eight games. No more. No less. I think it was too risky to appeal, because it just felt the FA wanted to make an example of Suarez. That's fine, as long as they show the same stance for every player doing a similar thing. Starting with John Terry of Chelsea. I wrote an article about this a few weeks ago if you're more interested in my thoughts on the Suarez situation, you can read that here. Anyway, like Liverpool, let's all draw a line against this.

Man City! Away from home! Tough match. But with City losing on the weekend, I think it's a good time to play them. Especially as we scored 3 goals against Newcastle, the first time we have scored 3 in the Premier League since August, when we beat Bolton 3-1, the same margin. Let's hope our strikers have their scoring boots on, and the defence can keep their watertight lock on that goal! I feel quite confident today in honesty!

Here are the teams:

Man City: Hart, Clichy, Toure Kolo, Richards, Kompany, Silva, Toure Yaya, Barry, Milner, Aguero, Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Lescot, Zabaleta, Savic, de Jong, Johnson, Kolarov. 

It's hard to find a fault in this team. But this is the team we drew earlier this season, and beat last season. In fact, Man City have only lost 1 of the last 13 games against us. But City are very very dangerous now and we need to be careful. I think we can still win though. No Balotelli, but Aguero and the emergence of Dzeko this season makes a strong attacking duo. 

Liverpool: Reina, Enrique, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Spearing, Adam, Downing, Henderson, Kuyt, Carroll. Subs: Doni, Gerrard, Maxi, Carragher, Shelvey, Kelly, Bellamy.

Naturally no Suarez now. Bellamy on the bench is surprising though. He's been our best player recently and has scored most of the goals too. It looks like 4-4-2 today, with Carroll and Kuyt up front and Henderson and Downing on the wings. I suppose you can understand, what with us playing away from home, against the benchmark team of the Premier League. Bellamy can always come on later if needed, and Gerrard. Our bench looks pretty good at least.

3' - We're all wearing black armbands in memory of Gary Ablett who passed away a few days ago. 

6' - A half chance for Dzeko who hesitated in front of goal. Good for us. Richards was the man who set him up.

7' - DOWNING! Great chance but Hart saves! 

8' - Silva goes down the left wing and sets up Dzeko in the Liverpool box, who from a tight angle forces Reina into a save. 

10' - GOAL! Aguero. Kuyt concedes the ball and it gets to Aguero who takes a tame shot at goal, and the ball lands under Reina and goes in. That wasn't good from the usually excellent Reina. 

12' - I love Reina so much, but he's done a few mistakes this season, more so than usual. But that being said our defence has been pretty solid this season in comparison. I hope this is a little blip because Reina is just brilliant on his day. 

13' - A strong City attack with many one-twos ends up with Aguero who tries to chip the ball above Reina, and fails. 

15' - A half chance for Liverpool, Kuyt crossed from outside the penalty box on the right and Carroll gets a head to it, and it's over the bar. 

17' - @Anonymous - I don't think Reina needs to be sold, I just think he's having a blip. He's one of our most consistent players usually. He's still at a great age and I doubt he's going to slip long term. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt I say. 

19' - Some good pressure there from the Reds. It's hard to pinpoint one good moment really, but it was nice to see. We're not out of this by a long stretch.

21' - A shot from Dzeko takes a deflection and Reina attempts to save in shot's direction, and Aguero almost slotted the ball in an empty net but it was travelling too fast. Relief.

22' - Downing has been tripped by Silva just outside the City box. Shame Bellamy isn't on the pitch to take this cross, he's been pretty good with his crosses recently. 

23' - Adam takes the free kick and it's dealt with easily by Hart. 

24' - Henderson was set up nicely for a shot by Kuyt and it goes wide to Hart's goal. Decent effort though. 

26' - We've responded very nicely from the goal we conceded, we're much more dominant now. City have barely threat, bar the deflected shot five minutes ago. 

27' - A battle between Aguero and Skrtel and Aguero wins, but the ball once again travels too far and Reina clears. 

27' - Adam wins us another free kick in another great position.

28' - Henderson takes it and it hits the wall. Shame, it was an excellent place to win a free kick, central and just outside the box. 

30' - Aguero looks for a handball against Skrtel but the replay rejects it. The replays clearly show Skrtel's hand moving away from the ball, he couldn't have done anything about it. Good refereeing decision.

32' - KOMPANY! Great save by Reina from the corner! Lightning reactions from the Spaniard! 

32' - GOAL! Yaya Toure scores after another corner. Another header and this one goes in. We're 2-0 down now. Not good.

35' - Downing gets called for a free kick for handball. That wasn't handball either, the ref got this one wrong I'd say. 

36' - Steven Gerrard is warming up. Put him in at the start of the second half? I'm not sure. 

38' - @Anonymous #2 - Are you a Liverpool fan? I really hope not, Reina has played more than 300 times for this club and doesn't need fans turning on him when he's set numerous clean sheet records and saved many penalties over the years. Show him some respect.

41' - Charlie Adam concedes a free kick after a poor tackle on Dzeko. This is a decent area for City, I really hope we don't concede a third now. Silva takes it and it's gone for a goal kick.

42' - Carroll heads it down to Kuyt who has a decent effort but it's blocked by Kompany at goal-sight and then dealt with. 

44' - There's been a few tackles for the past few minutes by both sides that have been pretty poor, tensions are rising I'd say. Gareth Barry goes in the book for the latest one. 

45' - One minute of added time. 

45+1' - Half time. 

Well we conceded a poor goal by Reina. He should have done better than that, but there's no point in hounding Reina, he's been one of the best players for Liverpool in the past 6 and a half years and all players make mistakes. The difference being a goalkeeper's errors are easier to see. The second goal was unavoidable, City were strong in the set pieces and Toure's headed goal was too strong for anyone to deal with. Between the two goals they scored we looked pretty solid, definitely the better side. Are we out of the match? No. We need a quick reaction in the second half and then it's game on. Do we go to the bench and make changes? That's up to King Kenny of course, but my opinion is purely based on the fitness of Bellamy, Gerrard and possibly Maxi. Any of those three can be match winners when on form so if they're fit and raring to go, put on or two on at the start of the second half. We can still get something out of this, but if we concede another I'd say that's the end then.

45' - No substitutes made. That's fine, but it's going to have to be in the next 20 minutes surely, unless we score in that time of course! 

48' - A decent cross from Enrique, the first time he's been able to get forward properly, and Kompany heads it for a throw in, stopping Carroll from getting a vital touch.

50' - We've started the second half well, pushing City back as often as we can. No major penetration yet though. 

53' - The commentators think we lack pace, it's possible. We do have pace on the bench in Gerrard and Bellamy, that's not a hint I promise! 

56' - Double Liverpool Substitution: Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy come on for Charlie Adam and Dirk Kuyt, who both haven't had the best of games. 

57' - I think Kenny has made a good move putting these two players on. They're both match winners and both scored good and important goals against Newcastle.

60' - We need to score soon, 30 minutes left to go, a goal soon would make take momentum strongly in our favour.

62' - Enrique and Reina have a mixup whether or not who retrieves the travelling ball. It's not good that there was a communication issue at the back.

64' - Aguero has caused a lot of problems for us today. He's a tremendous player. That being said I'd say man of the match so far has to be Vincent Kompany, who's been a rock at the back for City.

66' - Both Milner and Glen Johnson have gone down due to a tackle from the former on the latter. 

69' - We're still dominating possession without putting that much pressure on City. I don't think this is going to be our night to be honest. We need a piece of magic from somewhere and fast. 

71' - Manchester City Substitution: Sergio Aguero comes off for Adam Johnson. Aguero was excellent today, really getting in between our defenders and just generally causing chaos, not too dissimilar to Suarez.

72' - RED CARD FOR BARRY! Two yellows for Barry, for a tackle on Gerrard. I don't think it was deserving of a yellow that tackle, I think he's unlucky, but it gives us some hope! 

73' - PENALTY FOR CITY! Grrrr! The ref gave a penalty as Toure went down when Skrtel was chasing, I'm unsure if that was a penalty! Some possible bad decisions here by the ref.

74' - GOAL! Milner scores the penalty and City are 3-0 up, and have pretty much got the points in the bag.

75' - Manchester City Substitution: David Silva comes off in place of Lescott, a good move for City, who have to defend for 15 minutes, now with 5 defenders. 

75' - Liverpool Substitution: Jay Spearing comes off and Maxi Rodriguez comes on. It might be too little too late, but you never know in football.

78' - Another miscommunication from the back! This time it's Skrtel and Reina, Skrtel gave a very short passback and Dzeko almost took advantage. Our back 5 really haven't been very good today. 

79' - ADAM JOHNSON! Hit the post! A lovely strike from the young Englishman, Reina was beat! This is definitely a match to forget for us. 

81' - GERRARD! Just wide. It was a nice strike, vintage of Gerrard, and it was just passed the post. 

84' - Kudos to Liverpool, we're still trying to get another goal despite being three down, but it lead to a counter attack in the end. We don't want to concede a fourth. 

85' - Rodriguez! Close. He was in the box and backheels to make space, and shoots just over the bar. More accuracy and it would have been a nice goal.

89' - Bellamy! Saved by Hart and it rolls for a rebound for Rodriguez and another Hart save. Frustrating stuff.

90' - Gout minutes of added time.

90+1' - Vincent Kompany wins man of the match, and it's rightfully deserved. He's been absolutely amazing today. At least it wasn't the goalkeeper this time that did all the heroics, not that Hart has had a bad game either.

90+2' - Downing finds some space in the penalty box and goes for goal, but Hart saves low to his right. 

90+4' - Full time.

What to say? Well, simply, this was a Premier League title winning performance for Manchester City. I don't mean they thrashed us or anything. But they had their chances and took them. Over the ninety minutes, we were the better side, the side with possession, the side with the most chances. But important moments in this game cost us. Reina's mistake, followed by a strong City set piece header by  Yaya Toure, and then the excellent break by Yaya again for Skrtel to concede the penalty, and then Milner's spot kick. Three important moments, three goals. That's what champions do, that's what United have done for so long. I really think City can win the title, if they keep staying one step ahead.

As for us? Same old Liverpool, loads of chances, zero goals. We need a new striker, it's as simple as that. Bellamy and Kuyt aren't always being used as strikers, so Carroll and Suarez are the only two out and out strikers we have. That needs to change. It's a major priority to get another striker in. Who? For me, dare I say it, but we need someone like Yakubu. Despite being an ex-Blue, I've always been a fan of the Yak. When on form he's fantastic. He's big and strong and really intimidating. He's an up front presence we haven't had at Liverpool since the days of in prime Emile Heskey. We need that time of presence. But as long as we get a clinical finisher, another good quality striker, I don't mind who we get. That's up to the owners and Kenny. Anyway, thank you for reading my live thoughts, it's been a pleasure, have a good night.

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  1. Reina needs to go. He's a terrible goalkeeper. Doni to start, sell Reina for what he's worth!

  2. Bye bye Reina. Hasta la vista