Jurgen Klopp made a mistake when Liverpool hosted Manchester City on Sunday. The Reds still saw out a 3-1 win, however.
Liverpool had a brilliant, clinical first-half against City. They weren’t even the best team for most of it, yet still managed to take in a 2-0 lead.
And Anfield had a third goal to cheer not long after half-time after Sadio Mane met a wonderful cross from Jordan Henderson.
But then things changed slightly. Klopp decided to swap things about to match City, who were using a different system to usual.
Pep Guardiola set up with a 4-4-1-1 system as Kevin De Bruyne played close to Sergio Aguero. Klopp decided to match it on the hour mark, taking off Henderson and bringing on James Milner.
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino played up top, Mane on the right, and Milner on the left. It was a flat midfield in an attempt to suffocate City.
But it didn’t work. City suddenly attacked more dangerously, while Liverpool couldn’t keep the ball. The Reds had played the first part of the half with more of the ball but they had little of it after that change on the hour.
City had as much as 79% possession at one stage. Outnumbered in the middle, Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum struggled to deal with the ball in the middle. De Bruyne and Aguero were able to get between the lines, constantly creating trouble.
City got one and could have had at least one more. It wasn’t until the 87th minute and Joe Gomez’s arrival that things changed back to see the game out – Klopp seemingly admitting his mistake.
So what do we take from that? One take is that Liverpool aren’t quite flexible enough to switch like that against a team like City.
Another would be that, individually, Klopp’s team were capable to see things out anyway. Despite not looking comfortable, Liverpool had enough to handle City.
And that’s surely a sign of champions.