Liverpool drew 2-2 with Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday afternoon. It was a breathless game that saw one player make a case for being the world’s best.
Jurgen Klopp hinted during the week that he could make a drastic change to Liverpool’s system. That, he said, was one option to replace the missing Trent Alexander-Arnold.
He faced a big decision, then – we had a look at his potential moves, be it to a back three or a 4-2-4 formation.
In the end, the big decision was that there was no change. Klopp kept the exact same XI that crushed Porto 5-1 in Portugal. He asked a lot of his players – most played an intense game against Brentford last week, too – but backed them to have the energy levels here.
The slowest start
To call that first-half slow would be an understatement. Liverpool just couldn’t get going whatsoever, struggling to string five passes together.
By the end of it, the Reds had one shot (off target) and rarely threatened City at all. It was the opposite of the Porto display as Liverpool failed to get any control.
The biggest concern was the cheap errors. We had Alisson, Joe Matip, Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane and James Milner all make glaring errors that piled pressure on and handed City chances.
Up a gear
Liverpool were visibly better in the second half. They were sharper, more aggressive and just far more fluid. Credit to Klopp for getting them back in shape.
It’s just unfortunate that it took 45 minutes. Liverpool will regret getting only playing the second half here and it turned out that City were there for the taking.
We won’t quite call it two points dropped – Liverpool drawing 2-2- with City isn’t the end of the world – but it’s frustrating, certainly.
If anyone doubts that Alexander-Arnold does actually improve Liverpool, just watch that. The team were notably weak at right-back here, with James Milner frequently struggling with his positioning.
That’s no slight on Milner – he’s not used to the role – but everything City did came in that space. Alexander-Arnold could have shut that down at a far higher level.
But it also makes the decision to not sign a right-back this summer look a little questionably. Alexander-Arnold or not – an experienced right-back could have saved Liverpool today.
This was a game where Mohamed Salah showed that he might just be the best in the world right now. We certainly wouldn’t swap him for anyone on this form.
The Egyptian made the first goal happen with a burst of energy that City couldn’t handle. His pass to Sadio Mane was exquisite.
But the second was unbelievable. What a goal. Salah danced by four players in total before finishing with his weaker foot. Doing that against a team who hadn’t conceded in over eight hours before today is extraordinary.
A sensational player – and there might be more to come.