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Manchester City 1 Liverpool 1 (Nov 8 2020)

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Report by
Dave Usher

 

We usually lose here so this is a good point. The onus is on the home team to win these fixtures, particularly when they’re behind in the table, so it’s a better point for us than it is for City. So I’m not disappointed or upset by this, especially as neither side deserved to win the game. The result is fine, the performance was ok and it’s a point gained on the last couple of seasons.

 

That said, we probably should be winning this as, whisper it, Man City are really not that great anymore. They’re still good, on their day very good even, but they aren’t great. If you look at that eleven that took to the field against us, man for man we’re considerably better in most positions, even without Van Dijk, Fabinho and Thiago, who all would have started had they been available.

 

City just aren’t as strong as they were. De Bruyne is phenomenal, Sterling is always a danger and Jesus is a constant goal threat. Other than that their side is very ‘meh’ these days. Still better than most and very easy on the eye, but there's been a big drop off from where they were and where they are. It’s the name and reputation they’ve built up under Guardiola’s time there that scares you rather than that actual line up they put out these days.

 

So really, if this game was played ten times I think we probably should win maybe five or six minimum, with the rest mostly draws and maybe one or at most two losses. So why didn’t we win this then? Lots of reasons but first and foremost because we didn’t make it count enough when we had them reeling in the opening 25 minutes. That was the time to make hay while the sun was shining, but we only scored once.

 

City were always going to come back into the game and have a spell of their own so we needed to get ahead before that happened. Klopp’s surprising team selection caught them on the hop and they couldn’t cope with it in the early stages. All the talk beforehand was whether it would be Firmino or Jota starting but Klopp shocked everyone by picking them both in what was virtually a 4-2-4 formation. Call it 4-4-2 if you like and at times it was, but that’s as close to 4-2-4 as you’ll see in the modern game.

 

Firmino wasn’t playing deep, he was in a traditional front two alongside Mo. That was the big surprise to me. He wasn’t playing a deeply withdrawn striker’s role and he wasn’t a number ten in a 4-2-3-1, he was playing as a second striker just a little bit off Mo. City weren’t prepared for it and we tore into them early on. As Neville pointed out on commentary, virtually every single pass we played was forward as we tried to get in behind them at every opportunity.

 

I loved that. There are two ways to play against City. Let them have the ball and counter attack, or just play direct and get in behind their high line. Playing the first way doesn’t really suit us that much as we’re a front foot team. So the all out attack philosophy is something I’m well on board with. I liked what Klopp tried to do and it worked brilliantly for a while. 

 

 

This is just a teaser, click to view the full article

 

Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here. 

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"Van Dijk, Fabinho and Thiago, who all would have started had they been available" this is the key - they were missing Aguero and he might have started, other than that they were full strength. If we had 2 of those 3 available (maybe even 1 of them) we'd have won comfortably.

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The ball hitting their arms was where the similarity ended. One was at point-blank range, one wasn't. I'm not saying either should have been given, but the case for the penno against Gomez was marginally less preposterous than Cancelo's.

 

In the second half, the way we passed it between Matip, Gomez and Ali only to lose possession after a poor touch or a shit pass forward was excruciating. We gave them every opportunity. I was curled up into a ball, dying.

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Equally though I could argue that because Cancelo was facing down a shot, he should have put his hands behind his back as has become the norm these days. Gomez couldn't do that as he was sprinting back into the box.

 

Neither one was a pen, but if you give one you have to give the other is how I'd look at it.

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Must mention that prick Tyler on commentary, speaking about the fuckin rat. Something along the lines of Gomez will he keeping out of the way of Sterling after last time before they joined up for England. 

Fuck me the delusional prick, it was the cowardly rat who attacked Joe like the fuckin coward that he is. He wouldn't have done that to anyone else in the squad. Tyler is a prick and the rat a coward. 

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I thought for a horrible moment that Alisson was going to have to go off when he seemed to hurt his shoulder in the second half. The idea of Adrian playing the final half hour of a game like that would be the stuff of nightmares.

 

I'd forgotten about that penalty incident in the second half, but I remember being really pissed off at the time about it. For me it's not just the fact that they're ruining football with these bullshit interpretations of the offside law and handball rule, it's the fact that there's not even any consistency in how they're applied. Of course it shouldn't have been a penalty, but if you're giving the one in the first half where you're basically saying any incident where it hits the hand is a penalty no matter how close or unavoidable it is, then you have to give the second one as well. It was the same when Spurs drew at home to Newcastle the other week. Newcastle got a ridiculous late penalty, but it was made worst by the fact Spurs weren't awarded one for a virtually identical incident earlier on in the game. There's no consistency or accountability, and it's getting to the point where games seem more likely to be decided on the whim of the officials than how well a team plays. 

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I don’t think this report emphasis how good the quality of the first half was. It was absolutely brilliant from both sides. 
 

I also wouldn’t expect us to win at the Emptyhad 6/5 times out of 10. Although I agree they are as good as they were a couple of years ago (Kompany, Silva, Sane and an ageing Fernandinho haven’t been adequately replaced) they are still a fine, fine football side and in the top 3 in Europe. 
 

I think the report down plays how good Citeh were yesterday or how good they still are in general. 
 

I do agree though that even with VVD, Fabinho and Thiago out, we are still a better that them though. My inclination is we’ll finish above them come May. 

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Totally agree with everything there, a draw was fair. As you say, and similar to a couple of times we've played them lately, we didn't make the most of our spell on top.

 

I'd like to know how many times we've been screwed by VAR as opposed to how often we've benefited. And by benefited I mean had a decision that is just plain wrong go for us, not decisions that are correctly overturned?

 

It's good technology, but it's being operated by absolute fucknuggets. 

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para 20, this isnt football it's shit....etc... the nameless busy bastards have taken a great sport and made it almost unwatchable, Dave you've summed it up perfectly exactly how i feel about the game we all love,  even if they  change things they'll probably fuck it up again  and confuse us even more 

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Nah, I’m not having that the Sterling one before our pen was a foul. If that was a foul then so was the shoulder barge on Salah a few minutes earlier at their end. Neither were for me.

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Great report as ever. 

 

I was irrationally annoyed with the fact someone (Shaq ideally) didn't have a blast with the last kick of the game. Prob too far out to expect anything but it was pissing down at that point so may have been spilled by the keeper or deflected. Certainly worth a go more than the pitiful effort that we produced. 

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13 minutes ago, DaveTucker said:

Great report as ever. 

 

I was irrationally annoyed with the fact someone (Shaq ideally) didn't have a blast with the last kick of the game. Prob too far out to expect anything but it was pissing down at that point so may have been spilled by the keeper or deflected. Certainly worth a go more than the pitiful effort that we produced. 

Yeah we could do with pulling the trigger sometimes, especially against quality teams who defend well, we rarely thread the needle against these teams. 

 

Was annoying that match of the day didn't even show our handball penalty shout let alone debate it. 

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Shaq 100% should have had a shot, especially as none of the defenders wanted to go up and Matip started to go and then didn't commit to it and the ball sailed harmless over his head. Gomez went up and Klopp yelled at him to go back.

 

So yeah, let the little man hit it.

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1 hour ago, Anubis said:

Nah, I’m not having that the Sterling one before our pen was a foul. If that was a foul then so was the shoulder barge on Salah a few minutes earlier at their end. Neither were for me.

 

Can't remember the one on Mo but that Sterling one is given 9 times out of 10.

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5 minutes ago, dave u said:

 

Can't remember the one on Mo but that Sterling one is given 9 times out of 10.

 

The one last year on Origi at Old Trafford wasn't - robbing City to get even with United.

 

 

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The foul (or non-foul) on Sterling really is inconsequential to Mane being fouled almost a minute later, imho.

 

It's not like we went up the pitch right away to immediately get the penalty in the same phase of play. City won the ball twice after the initial incident, effectively meaning there were 3 different phases of play. Of course, their players were going to whinge over it but doing so was straw-clutching at its finest.

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Of course neither of them should be penalties in a normal world.

 

We will just have to let our expert Dermot clear this up.

"What I would say is that it was the stance taken over the weekend for whatever reason."

Fuckin brilliant Dermot, money for old rope.

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Or we leave it to a blue shite ref to take an unbiased view.

 

The new interpretation of the handball law as well as VAR have brought it more into focus

 

As a (grassroots) ref I have to be 110% certain before I award any penalty

There are incidents which I think I'm 80% certain of and if I had VAR I would award them but the thought of giving a howler and basically a team a goal puts me off

 

Take the Salah pen last week

No grassroots ref is giving that as a pen - they would get laughed out of the ground - but he goes to ground ref points to the spot knowing that if there was no contact he can reverse his decision - he then sees the incident and convinces himself that the minimal contact is sufficient for him that he's not given a howler

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7 hours ago, DalyanPete said:

Of course neither of them should be penalties in a normal world.

 

We will just have to let our expert Dermot clear this up.

"What I would say is that it was the stance taken over the weekend for whatever reason."

Fuckin brilliant Dermot, money for old rope.

 

Another baldy proving my theory correct....

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2 hours ago, Captain Howdy said:

Am I the only one who thinks it was a penalty? I would have been fuming if that was City and it wasn’t given.

Yes, yes you are.

 

I genuinely haven't heard ANYONE else say it was!

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6 hours ago, DalyanPete said:

Or we leave it to a blue shite ref to take an unbiased view.

 

The new interpretation of the handball law as well as VAR have brought it more into focus

 

As a (grassroots) ref I have to be 110% certain before I award any penalty

There are incidents which I think I'm 80% certain of and if I had VAR I would award them but the thought of giving a howler and basically a team a goal puts me off

 

Take the Salah pen last week

No grassroots ref is giving that as a pen - they would get laughed out of the ground - but he goes to ground ref points to the spot knowing that if there was no contact he can reverse his decision - he then sees the incident and convinces himself that the minimal contact is sufficient for him that he's not given a howler

 

I totally agree that in Sunday league or any lower level footy that Mo would not have been given a pen for that and I also agree that he shouldn't get it. Football at that level is a lot less cynical and more honest. 

 

In the Premier League though, it's 100% a pen all day because they play almost a different sport in terms of contact and what is and isn't a foul. If a player is kicked and he goes down (regardless of whether he throws himself or is genuinely felled), he's getting a pen almost every time in the professional game.

 

Not saying it's right, but that's the way it is.

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