Liverpool need to improve after Manchester City defeat

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It was the Premier League's first blockbuster game on Monday and we saw a superb performance from Manchester City who cruised to a 3-1 victory over Liverpool.

Looking at last night's performance, it was pretty poor from the Reds and they let City run riot.

Liverpool controlled the first thirty minutes of the game through Philippe Coutinho - who was much improved from their previous game against Southampton early on - and Raheem Sterling's skipping runs to get behind the City defence caused the home teams defence havoc.


However, the Merseyside club failed to create clear cut chances. In the first half, there was just one effort that tested Joe Hart - after Glen Johnson found Daniel Sturridge at the back post, the striker produced a neat bit of footwork to beat Vincent Kompany however his near post shot was easily dealt with by the Manchester City goalkeeper.

Liverpool were lacking an extra man up front and it was noticeable from the beginning of the game,  From what I've seen during the Reds' first two fixtures, Sturridge struggles to play up top on his own and cannot fulfil his full potential. The England International's best work came last season when playing along side Luis Suarez and the pair linked up well, yet for the first few games this campaign Sturridge has received the ball and had lack of options up top with him. 

Double trouble

Based on the Southampton game, I do not understand why Rodgers did not recognise this and start with Rickie Lambert up top with the former Chelsea man. We saw how the pair linked up when the £4 million man came off the bench late in the second half - Liverpool's only goal came via Lambert's header that forced a Pablo Zabeleta own goal through a Daniel Sturridge assist and they nearly linked up again minutes later.

Dejan Lovren had a solid debut, however he was well under-par last night. For City's first goal, the gap between left-back Alberto Moreno and himself was far too big and despite the Croatian meeting the cross put in, it was a weak header that found Stefan Jovetic who slotted home. It Lovren had have been in a better position, he would have been in a place to clear the ball much more decisively.


As for Moreno, he also played his part for City's goal. When Lovren headed away, it fell towards the Spaniard however instead of wrapping his right foot around it, he chose his favoured left that allowed Jovetic to nick in front. I'm willing to allow that slide if I'm honest, as I think first of all Lovren should have been better positioned and at just 22 Moreno is still inexperienced and he will learn from his mistake.

In the second half it was all City for the most part. Another continuing problem Liverpool have is in the midfield and Rodgers again has failed to recognise it. For me, Jordan Henderson is what I call a 'nothing player.' For someone who is supposed to be a box to box midfielder, he neither does much defensively or in the final third. Yes, he's busy and shows bundles of energy however Liverpool need someone more than a headless chicken running after the ball. 

As for Joe Allen, he was decent in the first half an hour yet went quite when the going got tough, the tough didn't get going and went into hiding. 


Liverpool are desperate for a midfielder who can take the game by the scruff of the neck. I'm still baffled why Rodgers didn't bid for Cesc Fabregas - albeit he probably would have went to Chelsea however there would have been hope. With the time ticking, it looks like there will be no central midfielder brought in and its an area where you will see Liverpool struggle. The Reds are relying on a 34-year-old Steven Gerrard still, to sweep up and it is unfair on the skipper.

If Henderson is supposed to be the future of the Liverpool midfield, he needs to improve - and fast. This is now his fourth season at Anfield and he is 24 - the same age as Gerrard was when he carried Liverpool to the Champions League in 2005.

City's second goal showed the inexperience of Lovren and Martin Skrtel's partnership. I noticed throughout the game how close they were to each other throughout the game and that must improve. Although they had a decent position between them, we saw a repeat of last season - a lack of organisation at the back. When David Silva was on the ball, both Pablo Zabeleta and Jovetic were left unmarked. Silva found Jovetic, who's fancy back heel went to Samir Nasri who fed the ball back to Jovetic, snatching his second goal of the game.


Lets rewind to Silva on the ball - if you can get a video by all means watch it. Jordan Henderson was in no man's land at this time with Jovetic just five yards away from him. As for Zabeleta, he was unmarked however Lovren was forced to go to the ball instead of sticking with his man. It was simple how you had to defend this goal - Henderson pushed on Jovetic, Lovren would then have Zabeleta and the run of Nasri.

As for the strike itself, what was Glen Johnson doing. He should have been attacking the ball when it fell to the Montenegrin International and really put pressure on him. 

Another query I do not understand, is why Rodgers is persisting with Johnson. Every football fan across the country knows he is a liability, poor defensively. Even going forward, he was awful and ran into City defenders with the ball many a time. 


The home sides third was again poor defending and lack of communication from the Reds defence. When Jesus Navas had the ball on the half way line, first off all, Moreno should be putting more pressure on him for the position he was in. When Navas sent his ball to Sergio Aguero, Lovren was unaware of the Argentine's run. All that was needed was a simple bit of talking - Skrtel had Edin Dzeko to deal with however Glen Johnson was free. All that was needed was both Skrtel and Johnson to move across one.

As for the finish, Simon Mignolet was beaten far too easily at his near post. I don't know what he was doing, but no goalkeeper should be getting beat that their near post, especially with the space he left on this occasion.

There were some positives to Liverpool's performance. As I mentioned, Lambert was again an impact player who looked solid up front and he really deserves a start next fixture against Tottenham. Sterling was busy and he will frighten defenders this season.


My final point I'd like to point out is something I've briefly touched on. Brendan Rodgers is a superb manager, however I question his substitutions to impact games. 

When Liverpool went 2-0 down, it took Rodgers five minutes to bring on Lazar Markovic who replaced Philippe Coutinhoand I was confused why the substitution took so long. His next change came fifteen minutes later - another five minutes after Serio Aguero bagged the third - and that was Emre Can replacing Joe Allen.

Tell me, why did a defensive midfielder replace Allen whilst Lambert - a striker - had to wait until 80 minutes gone to be brought on.

As soon as the second went in, Rodgers should have had both Markovic and most importantly Lambert stripped off and ready to come on. 

I expect Liverpool should bounce back, especially with Mario Balotelli being now eligible to play against Tottenham. However Rodgers needs to work hard with the back four and be more clinical with his substitutes along with possibly bringing in one more midfielder at Anfield.

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