Football

Liverpool 2-1 Manchester City: What did we learn?

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Liverpool climbed into fifth place in the Premier League with a 2-1 victory against Manchester City on Sunday.

Despite having less than 48 hours to prepare for the game following Thursday's exit from the Europa League at the hands of Besiktas, the Reds started the game brightly and Jordan Henderson's strike from outside the box burst the top corner of the net on the 11th minute mark.

City soon responded when Edin Dzeko's finish capped off a fantastic move for the away side.

With the game at a deadlock, Philippe Coutinho - who scored the winner in this fixture last season - drilled his shot from 25 yards to leave Joe Hart helpless and hand Liverpool the three points.

Coutinho Benefits From Break

For Thursday's tie against Besiktas, Brendan Rodgers decided to leave Coutinho out of his squad and instead let the Brazilian rest for the Manchester City game.

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It was a brave move from the former Swansea City boss and given the result of the tie in Istanbul, Coutinho had to thrive against the Citizens.

That he did and to absolute perfection.

After starting every match since Liverpool played FC Basel in mid-December, the 22-year-old had a well deserved rest of the sidelines and came back stronger than ever.

From the word go he menaced the Citizens, picking the ball up from deep positions before the break and always made things happen. 

His passes in the first-half to find Adam Lallana and an outside of the ball ball to find Raheem Sterling were just two moments that Coutinho took the Anfield crowd's breathe away.

The former Inter Milan has the most fantastic ability to find acres of space and worked the ball always.

And what about his goal. 

His bending shot gave Hart absolutely not chance and arguably topped his strike against Southampton.

Liverpool needed somebody to dictate the play in the final third and that Coutinho did.

Henderson Showing His Importance

In a game that there was no Steven Gerrard, no Lucas, no Mamadou Sakho, the Reds needed a leader to step up.

Henderson regained his captain duties after missing Thursday's European tie with injury and certainly stepped up to the plate.

Yaya Toure is regarded as one of if not the best centre-midfielders in the Premier League and the Wearside native completely outplayed his opponent.

Henderson was stuck to Toure whenever the Ivorian had the ball, giving him little space to dictate play as he so often does. Sure, Toure hit he odd long-ball here and there, usually swept up by the Liverpool back-four, however apart from that he did little else in the game.

Henderson smartly dispossessed the former Barcelona man on several occasions, one leading to a chance that Daniel Sturridge should have buried. 

In his 11 games as Liverpool captain this season, Henderson has won nine and drawn two of those games. His presence was badly missed in Istanbul and showed just how important he is to the team.

His goal was a wonderful strike, one that somehow was topped by Coutinho's. On the foot that kept him out of Thursday's game, it was curled to perfection giving Hart not a hope in hell.

If Rodgers is still debating who to make his captain once Gerrard leaves from Los Angeles Galaxy, Henderson is making his boss' job easier.

Allen Steps Up

On St. David's Day, Liverpool's only Welsh player certainly performed like a saint.

Joe Allen has faced some heavy criticism during his time at Anfield, however when given responsibility in recent weeks he has been magnificent.

Much like Henderson, Allen snapped at the heels of Toure and Fernandinho, giving the Manchester City midfielders no chance of playing.

From the first to the final whistle, the ex-Swansea City man grafted to win the ball back for his side, never stopping even when tiring towards the end.

He was neat and tidy, playing passes that were not the class of Coutinho's however were the roots of Liverpool attacks, as shown early on when his tackle and pass to his Brazilian team-mate almost set up Lallana.

Allen was considered nothing but an expensive £15 million squad player prior to the injuries of Gerrard and Lucas. Now, fans are debating if he can really become the 'Welsh Xavi.'

Momentum With Liverpool

Another game passes by and Liverpool are still unbeaten in the top flight in 2015.

In fact, the Reds have won eight of their last 10 games in the Premier League and Sunday's win saw them leapfrog Southampton in to fifth.

The confidence in the Anfield dressing rooms must be sky-high and there will be real belief they can finish in the top-four this season.

Manchester United occupy fourth spot with just two points more than the Reds and Louis van Gaal's side still have to travel Merseyside later this month.

Rodgers has stated that a top-three finish is also not out of the question and with Arsenal just three points ahead, the Northern Irishman is not far wrong.

With the five-time European Cup winners in such fantastic form, fans see nothing else but qualification for the Champions League.

Liverpool had key players missing for Sunday's game and when a full squad is fully assembled, they could strike even more fear into their opposition.

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Topics:
Manchester City
Football
Premier League
Liverpool

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