Liverpool and Manchester City fought out an entertaining and back-and-forth encounter on Sunday, eventually sharing the points in a 2-2 draw.
A bright start saw the Reds threaten once or twice early on with their high pressing and adventurous passing, but that quickly faded and City dominated the large majority of the opening 45 minutes. Phil Foden was the biggest threat, twice denied by Alisson, while Jack Grealish flashed an effort wide too and Kevin de Bruyne should have done better with a header.
After the break, an improved home outfit went close through Diogo Jota, before Mohamed Salah’s run and pass from the right set Sadio Mane free to beat Ederson on the hour mark – but Foden’s fine low finish levelled matters 10 minutes later.
Salah then produced an incredible solo effort, beating four players and the keeper to put the home side ahead again, only for Kevin de Bruyne to equalise once more with a deflected strike.
Here are five things we learned from the match at Anfield.
Grealish in the middle
Rather than being stationed out on the left where he has been for most of the campaign so far, Grealish was played through the middle as Man City’s most central forward – certainly not a striker, but nominally so in the line-up graphics, at least.
Movement, good ball-retention and a few dribbles were all on show as would be expected – but not in a No9 area of the pitch, which often meant he was doubling up in the channel and leaving space for Gabriel Jesus to try and attack.
While Grealish’s showing couldn’t be passed off as poor, it didn’t see him add much of an attacking dimension to his team’s play and he was entirely overshadowed by the man who filled his role on the left, Foden.
Subbed off with his team behind and they quickly equalised without him.
Two players at either end who made a big contribution were the goalkeepers: Alisson and Ederson, who will now jet off for international duty together with Brazil.
The Reds’ No1 made two big stops from Foden before the break and clawed away several crosses amid the City onslaught, keeping his side in the match.
City’s man between the sticks had less to do in terms of handling work, but again showed his passing prowess with some defence-splitting balls from his own penalty box, including one which nearly saw Foden race in to score.
Both were beaten by efforts they could do nothing about in the end, but both played a big part in their teams’ respective hopes.
Good and bad in midfield
Both teams had a surprising variance in the middle of the park in terms of their performers: Rodri and Jordan Henderson were almost unbelievably poor on and off the ball, while Curtis Jones again stood tall for the Reds and Bernardo Silva continued his excellent recent form.
At the break, the Liverpool captain had misplaced precisely half his passes – not ideal against the league champions, whose strength is based on ball retention. Rodri, meanwhile, was guilty of losing challenges and gifting the ball away too – though made one massive late block on Fabinho to redeem himself.
Silva’s solo run was a first-half highlight which almost led to a City goal, while Jones again proved his worth at the heart of midfield in a fourth successive start.
Salah serves up a classic
Performances like this only hasten the need for the Reds to tie up Mohamed Salah’s new contract.
The No11 was immaculate in attack and hard-working defensively, with a brilliant assist and a genuinely world-class goal twice setting his team in front.
A clever dribble and a through-ball set up Mane, but then it was all about the Egypt forward as he showed strength, skill and poise to take on four and beat Ederson for an absolute wonder-goal.
The Reds dare not let him depart.
Top of the table struggle
Liverpool went into the weekend top and needed the win to return there, but couldn’t quite hold out against the reigning champions.
They do remain the only side in the Premier League who are unbeaten, but home draws against both title rivals – Chelsea being the other – might yet prove to be a slight underperformance at the very highest level.
It’s in fact the Stamford Bridge side who might be the most satisfied, with neither of these two winning and the Blues staying top – while City go third, above their own neighbours Man United.
Liverpool are unbeaten, City have only conceded three, but it’s Chelsea who sit in first for the international break.
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