It’s not a disaster losing when visiting the toughest stadium the Premier League has to offer, but Liverpool should have done more than look incompetent on offense. Brendan Rodgers is fair to expect more from players like Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, but more than anything, his tactical mistakes, coming in the same form for a second consecutive match, might have cost his team a better result or at least a more respectable performance.
Some things a manager can’t take care of, which is foolish mistakes. Like Dejan Lovren softly heading the ball in the wrong direction which helped Stevan Jovetic score the opening goal just before half time, despite Liverpool playing better than Manchester City through the first 40 minutes. Lovren is also to blame for the third goal, terribly covering Sergio Aguero, and Simon Mignolet, who picked up so many compliments after the win over Southampton, who has shown some bad positioning, not for the first time.
It’s also not Rodgers’ fault that during the few minutes of momentum Liverpool had after getting a goal back through Rickie Lambert of an own goal by Pablo Zabaleta, the former Southampton striker had himself another yummy opportunity and decided to pass instead of shoot. Being over-nice isn’t something you want with your forwards. Mario Balotelli was brought over to be a little bit more nasty, something that Liverpool need if this season is to be about contending for more than just fourth place.
Above all, Rodgers forgot what happened in the previous week. He got scared because of the opposition, and did something that we thought had been taken out of him after the first season and a little bit of last year.
Daniel Sturridge isn’t going to be doing well when he plays alone up front. Rodgers knows that, and yet he went back to the same formation that struggled so badly against Southampton. It helped Liverpool create short pressure on Manchester City and have plenty of possession in the first half, but it doesn’t give the team an opportunity to create chances without someone pulling off some individual brilliance. That can’t happen when Coutinho and Raheem Sterling don’t have someone waiting for them in the box, as Sturridge ventured out of position too many times.
When Lambert was on the pitch, things worked. Lambert might not be the ideal striker, but he’s capable of starting and playing more than late cameos. It gives Sturridge the freedom to roam wide without the team losing it’s man in the middle. Maybe it takes away someone who can move the ball in the middle of the pitch, but Liverpool seem to have plenty of those, maybe too many. Not learning from your own mistakes is almost like a cardinal sin when every point matters.