written by Jamie McLaughlin website at www.anfieldnews.com
The fixtures don’t come any tougher than playing against pace setters Manchester City. City remain unbeaten so far this season going into this match and have been scoring goals for fun in the league. But Liverpool was on a decent run of form too, remaining unbeaten in nine games, and with a superb victory last time out last Sunday at Chelsea.
Kenny made two changes from the team that won at Chelsea last Sunday with Downing and Henderson coming back into the side at the expense of Bellamy and Maxi. Bellamy was left out due to the tragic news earlier in the day of the death of his friend and international manager Gary Speed. Maxi was just unlucky to be left out especially after scoring at Chelsea.
This eagerly awaited clash was paled into comparison by the tragic news of the death of the much liked and respected Welsh manager Gary Speed who died earlier in the day at the age of 42. A minutes silence was observed before kick-off in respect of the very talented manager, and also for the passing of Liverpool’s reserve goalkeeper Brad Jones’s son who died last weekend at the age of 5 after losing his battle with leukaemia.
Once the football got started it was City who started the livelier side and in the 6th minute Richards shot over after a good turn. But then Kompany was booked for a late challenge on Suarez as the City defender let Suarez know that he was in for a tough afternoon.
A slack back pass by Enrique almost cost Liverpool dear as Aguero raced clear only to be thwarted by the alert Reina as he came racing out of his box to block the striker.
But then the visitors took the lead in the 31st minute when Kompany headed a Silva corner just inside Reina’s far post followed by wild celebrations at the away supporters section of the ground. But their celebrations were short lived when within a minute Adam tried his luck from 30 yards only to see his effort deflect off Lescott and into the net with Hart wrong footed.
This goal galvanised the home side and Adam almost gave them the lead but for a great save from the right foot of Hart as he looked to be going the wrong way. Glen Johnson saw a curling effort just miss the far post as Liverpool looked for a second goal. But City almost scored right on the half-time whistle with a lightning break which ended with Reina making a good save at his near post.
Liverpool started the second half on the front foot and Kuyt was unlucky with a header from a deflected Downing cross. Mancini brought on Balotelli for Nasri as he saw his side starting to struggle, but it was Liverpool who continued to threaten and Hart had to make another terrific save from a bouncing Downing effort. Then Lescott just managed to clear from Kuyt during a goal line scramble.
City were reduced to 10 men for the last 10 minutes when substitute Balotelli saw a second yellow after appearing to elbow Skrtel. Dalglish responded by bringing on Carroll for the remaining minutes as he looked for the win. But City almost stole a winner but for good goalkeeping from Reina allowing defenders to get back on the line to clear the danger through Skrtel.
But then in stoppage time Carroll produced a powerful header which looked goal bound only to thwarted by Joe Hart at full stretch, the rebound fell to Suarez who’s shot was superbly saved again by Hart at his near post, the follow up effort from Downing was blazed over, and City held on for a point in their toughest test so far in the league.
A superb match by two heavyweights, it was a pity but very understandable that Bellamy was left out for this one, and I believe Downing was brought in for Maxi because Downing has a bit more pace to thwart the danger of Richards marauding forward. City started well and had us under pressure in the early stages and I thought Reina was a bit fortunate when he blocked Aguero after Enrique’s poor pass, it looked like the ball struck his arm. It was great to see us respond so quickly from going behind although it was rather fortunate the way we equalised. But as the game wore on the stronger we got and Adam and Lucas were superb once again, with our defence handling the quality of the City attacking threat very well. Agger and Skrtel played superbly, with Reina making some vital saves. Johnson was a threat going forward and Enrique and Downing linked up to great effect down the left. Kuyt worked his socks off as per usual but Suarez was left a bit isolated at times and given some rough treatment. I was a bit disappointed with Henderson, the game seemed to pass him by. We were a bit unlucky not to win the match as we had the better chances, but I would have taken a draw before the match and I was proud of the performance against a very strong City side.
Man Of The Match – Lucas – his best game yet, he was everywhere, breaking up City attacks, starting attacks, his passing was superb, never gave a ball away and covered every blade of grass.