Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Manchester City 4 Liverpool 1 in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium…
IT’S a game of two halves. Which is entirely of Liverpool’s making.
First half Liverpool are together with a sense of purpose. Second half they are not.
Deal with the first half first. Or rather last season’s first half. Last season Manchester City were marvellous at the Etihad for the first half and pushed Liverpool back. But The Reds ensured they had threat, could counter and stayed alive. They went in 2-1 down and it may have flattered them, but the quality of the game was something to behold.
This season Liverpool get in level having played their part in a magnificent first half. Two sides going at it — Manchester City looking after it better, but Liverpool always carrying threat. Diego Jota played very well, Cody Gakpo full of possibilities. It’s a great Mo Salah goal which shows Liverpool have a game plan.
It isn’t perfect. Out of possession Liverpool can’t cope with John Stones at silly mid off. Neither Gakpo nor Jordan Henderson can quite work the space. Jack Grealish is getting in. Big Kev De Bruyne is playing ever so well as is Riyad Mahrez. Andy Robertson is finding it tough.
Liverpool though have five minutes of Virgil van Dijk being very front foot and it changes the half. Liverpool get in beautifully and score one of the best goals they have under Jürgen Klopp. It is a gorgeous goal. They makes three phases of space and then Jota uses his arse like Dalglish and there it is from Salah.
Their equaliser is excellent too, but also instructive. It is the hardest they have to work to score a goal out of their four. The flick from De Bruyne is excellent. Mahrez does brilliantly and finally the ball is with Julien Alvarez in the poacher’s position.
Every goal you concede should be analysed. But, not dissimilar to Liverpool’s opener, the City equaliser is mostly just great footballers being great.
But. But. The second half.
I love The Reds. But this season The Reds have driven me to distraction. At times they have appeared surprised by football matches. And at times they have taken things going against them so, so badly.
The start of the second half is absolutely brainless. Liverpool are collectively doombrains and this is a goal to analyse. They end up four versus five away from home against one of the best teams on the planet. They leave so many in space. They are lacking in seriousness.
There is a thing here — they will have come out at the break full of beans. But beans need to be managed. They stopped doing something they did brilliantly first half — they stopped respecting the scoreline. Level at the hour would have been great. Level on 75 would have been great.
It’s a mess of a goal. Everyone involved should do better, but the mindset should be better. The mindset is what was spot on first half.
The mindset is what was a shitshow second.
It’s the biggest concern. They just, well, stopped playing. Yes, Manchester City stepped up. Yes, they found a thing or two. But watching Liverpool players grow that tad too tetchy with each other is what kills me.
You win together and lose together. At the minute it feels like Liverpool win together. No one gives it the big I am. That’s a good thing. But when they lose they give it the tiny not me.
They look like they pass the blame around. They look moody. As soon as something goes wrong they look a mess. And then they stop.
It’s important to say Manchester City play well. And they play well from a level of being very good. But Liverpool just disappoint on a spiritual level. They go down swinging, but swinging at each other. They are bad at games and given what they do is games, this hurts.
The fourth made me ill. They were deeply passive and surprised by events. The keeper is so close to everything it is hard to tell if they are just too good or he should do better.
You are left with the two centre halves being poor, with the captain being poor, with no sub making a difference. Accentuating the positive has Jota, Gakpo and Alexander-Arnold all doing well first half and Mo Salah doing what he does.
Togetherness is everything. And no one is immune from its lack — I include the senior players. It’s key to include the senior players. Togetherness is exactly that. Bringing everyone along at all times.
We win together and we lose together, boys. Men. Leaders. We win together and we lose together. But we suffer together too. The bad times and the good. There is no other way home, so get it sorted. You play for Liverpool, you are not individuals. We only win as a collective. There is no one to blame but everyone, there is no “you” and there is no “him”. There is only us. You don’t feel sorry for yourself, feel sorry for everyone’s self.
I love The Reds. But they need to love each other. We’re a team. Together.
Nothing else makes sense.
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Heavy metal football demand fit young legs , something the Reds no longer have . Refreshing the squad will cost a bloody fortune .
Err first city goal had a lot to do with Trent leaving his man completely unmarked down the left. If I could be arsed I could compile at least thirty goals conceded this season where that’s been the case. Everyone targets that space since the madrid final. The whole team to blame for the second half but something has to be done about that gaping hole. Doesn’t look like Trent is gonna do anything about it so something has to change.
Put Trent right mid and get s right back who can defend. Where I sit on the Kop I can see its been crying out for that all season . Neil you are bang on we have lost the team ethic win or lose this group need to stick together. Leaders leaders leaders on the pitch ?????
Glad you referenced the poor body language. It’s been a feature almost since the start of the season. It’s understandable in loss of ways – after the draw at Fulham they might just have thought the league was gone already, as mad as that sounds, and with all the misfortune and reverses it’s got worse. But it must be a worry for Klopp; you can’t have “old married couple” shenanigans at any stage, and especially when the chips are down.
Overall it’s a campaign too many for some, too many miles in the legs and in the head for others, and. Or not enough for a few of the young lads. Time to start planning for next season. We’ll be back.
I’ve been a defender of TAA defensive capabilities for a while, but that fourth one. Jesus all had to do was run faster than a jog and he would have been all over him. He got beat, and threw the towel in, and his mark scores. Shake my head
Can’t blame just Trent Virgil attitude leaves a lot to be desired. Hate getting beat but getting beat up is worst the desire has gone .
Trent mid field soon as !!!!! cannot defend his positional sense in a joke . first job of
full back is to defend .. ask Phil Neal !!!!
Also Robbo is taking lessons from Trent in the art of defensive positioning ffs !
Or 3 centrebacks?