A fairly even encounter at Anfield saw Manchester City secure a draw against Liverpool. Two changes were made for the home side to the one that saw off Chelsea last week at Stamford Bridge. Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing were recalled in place of Maxi Rodriguez and Craig Bellamy who sadly withdrew from the game following the tragic news of the death of Wales manager Gary Speed.
Liverpool fans can feel hard done by after being kept at bay by some superb heroics between the sticks by City ‘keeper Joe Hart who put in a Man of The Match performance.
The initial stages swung back and forth as both sides sought a way through some stout defending. Pepe Reina was on hand to keep out a poor back pass from the usually faultless Jose Enrique as the Anfield faithful held it’s breathe. Chances came for both teams although it has to be said that Liverpool were on occasion wasteful in possession.
The breakthrough came in the 31st minute as Vincent Kompany’s head met David Silva’s corner and diverted the ball past Reina. The City lead, however, was soon undone. A mere 107 seconds after Kompany’s goal, his defensive partner Jolean Lescott equalized for the home side. The ex-Everton defender inexplicably sticking out a boot to divert Charlie Adam’s tame 30-yard effort past the helpless Hart. Liverpool were back on level terms.
Both sides started the second half tentatively, although City had the better of the early exchanges and Liverpool were to some degree on the back foot. There was little to part both sides who were both guilty of squandering possession needlessly in what was largely a nervous opening 20 minutes.
As the second half progressed, Liverpool began to get the better of the visitors and looked to take control of the game. Again, a poor back pass, this time from Lucas Leiva left Aguero through on goal after beating Reina to the loose ball. Virtually the entire back four manned the Liverpool goalmouth and eventually the ball was cleared by Enrique.
On 65 minutes, Roberto Mancini removed Samir Nasri in preference of Mario Balotelli, clearly feeling the City midfield was in need of a little more strength over flair. The move proved ill-fated as Balotelli was promptly dismissed 17 minutes later following first a needlessly bringing down Glen Johnson and then leading with his elbow against Martin Skrtel.
Liverpool smelt the chance of victory and set about pressing the City midfield and defence in search of the winner. Downing went close, followed by Hart superbly diverting Luis Suarez’s effort round the post. A double save from Hart in stoppage time from Carroll’s header and Suarez’s follow-up attempt saw the visitors literally cling on for what most home supporters would have considered a fortunate point.
Again another home draw for Liverpool, and yet again, another match-saving performance from the opposing man between the sticks. Liverpool should not be down hearted by this result. Despite the result the reds carved out chances aplenty against Mancini’s table topping outfit. You can’t really ask for more than that. The only downside was again the profligacy in possession and some poor back passes that put almost put the team in jeopardy. We have Pepe Reina to thank for some great decision-making in some desperate situations.
Overall, I think Mancini will be the happier of the two managers. Kenny Dalglish will be happy that his team dominated for large periods but will be a little disappointed by the fact that the team has again had to settle for a draw having put so much pressure on the opponent’s goal. Not a total disaster, but I would have preferred the three points.
Tomorrow I’ll be giving a low-down from a statistical point of view, which I promise you will make for some very interesting reading.
By Ben Green
Follow me on Twitter @Mrbengreen