Jake Askham gives us his weekly feature of 4 things we can learn from Liverpool’s latest game.
This week, he looks back at the 3-1 loss to City at The Etihad on Monday night.
1) The Coutinho Conundrum
After 2 disappointing performances on the bounce, many supporters have begun to criticise the brilliant Brazilian but in both games he found himself playing on the left wing which highlights his weaknesses and negates his strengths. Similarities can be drawn with Manchester United’s Juan Mata who is another bright footballer but is often played out wide, where his influence is clearly impacted. But you can see why Rodgers did play him in the LW position; playing against the best team in the country away from home we needed to try gain some control in midfield and this is where Joe Allen comes into his own. He may not grab any headlines, but he keeps possession of the ball in situations where Coutinho would try the killer through ball.
2) Two up front
Daniel Sturridge is a fabulous footballer, one of the best strikers we’ve seen grace the Anfield turf but he does often become slightly isolated when he’s played in the lone striker role. Whether or not he is to blame for that is irrelevant; but when he’s got someone else up there alongside him he looks much, much better for it. It allows him to play his natural game as he has less responsibility to be the focal point of the attack. The other striker does that and Sturridge then plays off that, exploiting the space to devastating effect.
That’s why the signing of Mario Balotelli is so exciting; both of them are competent at dropping deep and influencing the play but they also have the ability to score plenty of goals inside the penalty area. If those two strike up an understanding then the result could be something pretty special.
3) Alberto Moreno’s attacking potential
We haven’t had a proper attacking fullback at Anfield for a long time, but the Spanish defender seems to have solved this problem. Even against the current champions, his marauding runs forward caused problems on numerous occasions and with a little more composure could have resulted in a goal or two. This could be the key to unlocking defences this year; especially at Anfield, teams will defend deep and try to limit the space for Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling to exploit with their speed.
4) Defensive organisation
The post-game analysis on Sky Sports mainly focussed on the lack of organisation in our defence, with Neville and Carragher tearing us to shreds and rightly so. When you make as many fundamental mistakes as we did against players such as Jovetic, Dzeko, Silva and Nasri you will get punished and that’s exactly what happened.
With debutant Alberto Moreno and Dejan Lovren only making his second appearance, the left side of our defence had very little experience of playing in the Red shirt. Manchester City really did exploit this; one statistic showed that 51% of City’s attacks game down our left flank.
This isn’t something I’m too worried about though. When Martín Demichelis first broke his way into the Manchester City starting XI, he looked like the weak link and questions were raised about his performances. But Pellegrini put a lot of faith in him and once he got used to playing alongside the other defenders his own performances improved. And there’s no reason this won’t happen with Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno.
Although the scoreline didn’t reflect it, I thought we played fairly well in general. The difference between the teams was the fact they took their chances and we didn’t; with the additions of Mario Balotelli and Adam Lallana I’m still very confident for a good season. For a bit of perspective, in the corresponding games last season we had 0 points and this season we have 3. The real test comes on Sunday, if we can win the game we’ll prove a lot of doubters wrong and there’s no reason we can’t do so.