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.

Download The Anfield Wrap’s free app for Liverpool FC podcasts, video and writing all in one place…


Recent Posts: