Liverpool v Man City: Match in pictures
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Liverpool’s attacking thrust normally leaves a trail of sparks, smoke, and exhausted defenders in its wake, but it was Jurgen Klopp’s side who have been the ones fighting fires in the middle of the pitch. Normally this is not a problem for the Reds, as Fabinho and Jordan Henderson are normally there to alleviate any issues in the midfield.
But something has not been quite right with the 2020 Premier League champions – it’s all been a little bit too exciting.
Mohamed Salah was unfortunate to have not won the September player of the month, while the psychologist Sadio Mane reportedly hired last season to help cure his shyness in front of goal, looks to be paying off with four goals in his first seven League appearances.
Liverpool have been the entertainers in recent weeks, and while this will be a delight to the television companies and the neutrals, it has probably had Klopp eating his favourite cap.
2-2, 5-1, 3-3, 3-0, 3-0, and 3-2 score-lines in their last six matches in all competitions may be enough to get your side as the first pick in Match of the Day, but it will need a phenomenal endeavour to finish first in the Premier League.
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While Klopp will be happy the Anfield crowd are being thoroughly entertained, he will no doubt be concerned by his side’s lack of control in recent weeks.
After-all, Liverpool won the Premier League through controlling all areas of the pitch, and letting the terrifying tripartite of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane provide the goals.
Unfortunately, the Reds’ control of the midfield has been slipping out of their grasp like an furious fire hose.
Henderson, Fabinho, and Georginio Wijnaldum’s midfield contributions during their Premier League and Champions League triumphs may not have come close in the golden boot races, but they were as vital those of Mane, Salah, and Firmino.
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Teams always looked to counter Liverpool, but the midfield three formed a protective barrier as strong and vast as the Anfield gates.
Unfortunately, Wijnaldum is now at Paris Saint-Germain, and Henderson has unfortunately not quite been at the races.
A groin injury at the end of last season, followed by the European championships and a delayed pre-season have not done the Reds’ captain any favours this campaign.
However, as detailed by the Liverpool Echo, his 52.67 average passes per match and 50% tackle success rate are well below the lowest he has ever recorded.
It could perhaps explain how 18-year-old Harvey Elliott was able to displace the midfield talisman at several points in the season, before his horrific ankle injury put an abruptly cruel halt on his campaign.
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Liverpool fans would not complain about the crazy score-lines when they result in three points.
Six Premier League goals conceded in seven Premier League appearances is hardly a cause to sound alarm bells, but when five of those are shipped in the last two matches, it is the time to begin addressing the situation.
Mane and Salah’s individual brilliance helped secure a vital point at home to Manchester City in their last match but conceding less than ten minutes after scoring on two occasions does not suggest a team in control.
Henderson will likely use his experience and his nous to recover his form and his statistics, but with January looming and the Premier League so tight, the Reds will need to ensure entertainment makes way for control.
As fun as a 3-3 score-line is, a Premier League title celebration will always be more memorable and jubilant.
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