It was a battle to the death as the Red half of Merseyside took on the Blue half of Manchester in the traditional curtain raiser for the English Premier League 2019/2020 season .
It was a tale of two halves as Manchester City beat Liverpool 5-4 on penalties after their 1-1 full-time stalemate. City had started the better and brighter side, bossing first half possession and it took a change in tempo in the second half for Liverpool to get their much deserved equaliser via inspired substitute Matip. They almost got a winner too but Kyle Walker said NO when they seemed destined to take the lead for sure and to Penalty kicks it went where fate decided the rest.
Tactical as well as personnel switches ensured Jurgen Klopp’s men took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half but what lessons can be learnt from this intense clash of a curtain raiser.
Lesson 1: The Rivalry is Real
This is no bant to a rival or whatever anymore. As long as this two sides have Pep and Klopp this rivalry will be staying much to our delight. It will be hotter than ever this season, a yellow to Pep Guardiola long before the scuffle in the technical area proves this. Liverpool of course still smarting from losing the Premier League trophy by a single point to City came back roaring in the second half before losing in the draw of lots. The wait for their PL clash this season has already begun as it promises more and it’s clear they both know they are the best teams in the country at the moment.
Lesson 2: Both Need signings.
Liverpool are in need of a creative midfielder. This has been obvious since Philippe Coutinho was sold to Barcelona. The need for a creative midfielder is glaring in their struggles to create and score from the middle. They are always and probably too reliant on wingbacks and wingers. Don’t get me wrong they have quality in these areas but a look at Manchester City last season shows you there needs to be a balance between playing,creating and scoring from central areas as well as the wings. City on the other hand need a Left Back, Zinchenko might not be the answer over 38games as he’s young and was ridden rough by Mo Sallah today. In central defence cover might also be needed for the departed Vincent Kompany but it could be an opportunity to promote from the academy as well.
Lesson 3: These 2 are definitely front-runners for the title AGAIN.
A look at the fierce competition in this encounter alone shows you none of these teams intend to let up this season. This is two sides who just got done and dusted from preseason games and aren’t fully fit squads yet, imagine what it’ll be like when they ARE!. One thing is for sure, except these two fantastic sides are plagued this season or one of the rest have an out of the world kind of season then one them is picking up the EPL gong come May 2020.
Lesson 4: That you Vinny? Player performances highlights.
Kyle Walker was always a big game performer even before deciding to go bald much like the departed legend Vincent Kompany. Capping his performance with that tricky but brilliant goal line clearance in the second half. He is no Kompany but with performances like that he’s definitely a leader in that defence for City this season.
Raheem Sterling : Would have been a sterling performance from the Englishman had he put away the chances he failed to convert. It was a good start for him and he showed good understanding of his false 9 role at the start of the game before Sane had to come off due to injury. He’s a player who has shown massive improve but his finishing might be needing even more work as he looks a reliable source of goals for his team.
Raheem Sterling’s first half vs. Liverpool by numbers:
100% dribbles completed
100% shots on target
most final third passes (13)
4 touches in oppo. box
1 goal. (source:Squawka)
Rodri: Massive and expensive signing bit of transfer business for Manchester City in the window.
Rodri’s Man City debut by numbers:
100% aerial duels won
92% pass accuracy
1 trophy (source:Squawka)
Rodri has that ability to retrieve, hold, invite pressure and then release the ball into space that is created behind pressing players. This is how the Spaniard and City outmanoeuvred the Reds’ midfield press in the game. Decent debut and once he’s up to speed with the pace of the Premier League he might just be a bargain buy.
Lesson 5: Innovative Pep
We’ve always known Pep was an innovator with his formations amd tactical tweaks to the game on display today. Many questions were about why he chose Claudio Bravo over Ederson who was second choice to Alisson at the Copa America. It might indeed have been to test his new 2-3-2-1-2-1 formation. It’s a tactic where the goalkeeper plays in an outfield position alongside the last defender in moments of domination.
With innovative ways of dominating games like this could a defense of their title be successful or it’s Liverpool who will break the jinx?