Liverpool could have played Luis Suarez, but Kenny Dalglish preferred to get on with it and have him start serving his 8 match ban as soon as possible. Everything that worked at Anfield against Newcastle failed against Manchester City, who for the second consecutive season gave Liverpool a 3-0 thumping as they visited the Etihad stadium.
Even when Liverpool caught a break with Gareth Barry getting sent off for a second yellow card, City immediately bit back with a penalty kick earned through Yaya Toure. Liverpool’s scoring problems, only 24 goals in 20 Premier League matches, continue to deny this club from competing for a place in the top four.
They could have gone up early on, but Stewart Downing’s conversion rate this season is appalling, still scoreless after 20 matches. Joe Hart is a brilliant one on one keeper, but when you get a chance like that, Downing had to put it in. City didn’t wait long to strike, and Sergio Aguero’s tricky shot confused Reina, misjudging the drop, putting City ahead at home, where they are perfect this season in the league, conceding only 4 goals in 10 matches.
Yaya Toure, in a fantastic performance, alongside Vincent Kompany who won the man of the match, scored the second goal, which didn’t stop Liverpool from believing or trying to get back in the game, as City gave up midfield possession and just waited at the back for the toothless Liverpool attacks. With an easy to read game plan, City had no trouble denying Liverpool from creating real dangers. The one or two times they failed, Joe Hart was there with the save.
Everything problematic with Andrew Carroll as a single striker hit Liverpool hard in the face. Instead of placing Bellamy on the left and Downing on the right, where he has been vastly better, Dalglish went conservative, and paid dearly for it. Maybe it’s the whole discussion about Luis Suarez, which was a big part of the press conference after the match, about hints and allegations, conspiracies and what not. Dalglish didn’t give his players the best chance to win against the best team in England, and he probably knows it.
City? Not brilliant, but effective, clinical. The defense mopped up, with Kompany as the main man, anything they had to deal with. Mancini wants to win a title, not dazzle. Dazzling comes next, after he establishes City as the best team in the land. The defeat at Sunderland, the hottest team in the kingdom right now, ruined plans of re-taking the top spot as a sole possession. City press early, get their goals, and then just wait for counter attack opportunities. Edin Dzeko isn’t in his early season form, but he’s very hard to defend and keeps the ball very well.
Yaya Toure continues to amaze me with his abilities, as I always refer to him as a very good defensive midfielder and I keep forgetting how effective he is when he’s near the box. A very good passer and his off the ball movement is excellent, creating a very good partnership with David Silva who has not been his best self recently.
For Liverpool, the answer is to put the Suarez incident behind them until he returns. Let Carroll play, but Bellamy has to start on the left. Downing has to play on the right wing, and hopefully, Steven Gerrard can play for the disappointing Charlie Adam as soon as possible.