Liverpool Deserve Immense Credit For This
Seven members of the Liverpool starting XI played 120 minutes in Istanbul on Thursday night. They would, we were told, tire the longer the match went on and that was going to let City in. Except no-one told them.
On St David’s Day, Welshman Joe Allen was excellent in midfield and he simply set the platform for those ahead of him to prosper. Adam Lallana in particular was one of the Liverpool players who stood up to this challenge, whilst we’ll come to his attacking midfield colleague later.
This really was an excellent Liverpool display in the second half – as good as anything they produced last season – and it was an heroic effort given that they didn’t get back to Merseyside until 4.30am on Friday morning.
Persistence With 4-4-2 Could Spell Trouble For Manuel Pellegrini
Eyebrows were raised when Manuel Pellegrini opted to go to one of the toughest venues in the Premier League with two forwards, and sure enough he was forced to change things before the hour mark.
For the opening minutes it actually looked as though Pellegrini had made the right call as City sought to swarm all over opponents who were supposed to be tired, but the lack of cohesion in midfield allowed Liverpool to gain a foothold and even domination at times.
No-one has managed to play convincingly well against the formation Brendan Rodgers instilled in his team in late December, but Pellegrini hamstrung himself in his attempts to get his players to do so.
Philippe Coutinho Is Through The Glass Ceiling
‘If he could shoot he’d be the full package.’ No-one is making that familiar lament over Philippe Coutinho any more.
The little Brazilian again stood up and made the difference in a game against City, with his stunning winner just the latest in a growing list of sublime moments for a player who is really finding his feet as one of the stars of the Premier League.
He’s through the glass ceiling now, and joins the very best players in the division.
It’s Become Impossible To Ignore Vincent Kompany’s Mistakes
With Pellegrini leaving out Martin Demichelis here, the Manchester City manager was effectively removing Vincent Kompany’s comfort blanket and – in Eliaquim Mangala – replacing him with a toaster thrown into a bathtub.
The erratic Frenchman didn’t do too much wrong, but the anxiousness in his captain’s game was on show when he failed to close down Jordan Henderson for the Liverpool skipper’s fantastic opener, which – whilst largely about the excellence of the shot – did once again highlight a growing problem faced by City.
Kompany isn’t the player his once was, and it says it all that in leaving out Demichelis here many City fans thought Pellegrini had omitted his best defender.
Jordan Henderson Grows Into An Inspirational Role
Speaking of Henderson, the goal scored by the Liverpool skipper in the 11th minute here was right out of the Steven Gerrard handbook.
At a time when plenty are looking to the former Sunderland man to see what qualities he has to support his claim to replace the departing Reds icon, here was an example of how he can do what Gerrard so often has and lead by inspiration.
His leadership abilities might still come under question – witness how he handled the recent Mario Balotelli penalty drama – but this was a good sign.