The game of the season, so we thought, took place Sunday at Anfield between the two teams that are expected to make a serious run for the Premier League title. Liverpool, of course, is coming off of that abysmal performance against Napoli in a Champions League group match where the Liverpool players looked like they didn’t even want to be out there. And Man City was coming off a 2-1 against Hoffenheim also on the Champions League group stages. Liverpool vs. Man City have been the most exciting Premier League fixture in recent memory and has been a fixture that everyone is expecting: goals, goals, goals. Well in Sunday’s match it was more: defense, defense, defense. Both teams played brilliant defense, and the game didn’t open up until the second half. The game ended 0-0 and was the exact opposite of the game everyone was expecting. That being said, let’s get started.
Alisson Becker: 7
The big Brazilian goal-keeper had a relatively dull day. He didn’t have to do a whole lot to do in this match but when he was challenged he answered the bell. Got very lucky with Riyad Mahrez sending that PK into the grandstands in the 85′ that would’ve won City the game.
Joe Gomez: 7.5
Definitely not as comfortable at right back as he is at center back, but Gomez did a fantastic job by smothering Raheem Sterling. Made good overlapping runs going forward, and was a force on the right side.
Made the most Dejan Lovren type of tackle on Aguero, but other than that, the big Croatian did a superb job. Made up for that dumb tackle by entirely shutting down Jesus and making a goal-saving challenge.
Virgil Van Dijk: 7.5
Van Dijk is the one that made the tackle on Sane in the box to give City the opportunity to win the game. Other than that he was his dominant self. He is a heading machine, and is so powerful and dominating in the air.
Andy Robertson: 6.5
Robertson was a wizard on the left flank in the first half. Especially when it came to keeping up with Mahrez. He was not as influential in the second half.
Gini Wijnaldum: 8
This was Gini’s best game of the season so far. He did a fantastic job supporting the back four and got Liverpool out of some scary situations in their half. Gini has faced a lot of criticism, but he finally looks comfortable with his role in the middle of the pitch.
Jordan Henderson: 7.5
He was a madman playing forward balls against City. Did an excellent job providing Liverpool’s front three. Was questionable at times playing defense, though.
James Milner: 5
James Milner is like fine wine. He gets better with age. He was brilliant before being subbed off in the first half due to a hamstring injury. Hope it is nothing serious.
Mohammed Salah: 7
Looked a lot more like the Mo the Liverpool supporters are used to. I feel like it has been forever since Mo has bulged the net. Had a great opportunity to put Liverpool ahead but his finishing is nowhere to be seen so far this season.
Sadio Mane: 6.5
Mane was kept quiet by Kyle Walker the vast majority of this game. Mane was not allowed to make those long in swinging runs that he usually does. In a bit of a slump as well.
Roberto Firmino: 6
Was not his usual self either. Bobby was not able to make any forward runs because City’s center backs were dominating. This whole Liverpool front three need to step it up.
Naby Keita: 6 (for Milner 29′)
Played well defensively, but his forward passes were not up to par. His hard work is what saved him this game. He just never stops running, and always seems to recover nicely when caught out of position.
Daniel Sturridge: 5 (for Firmino 72′)
He has embraced the role of the super sub, but he was not all that super when he came on. Made little to no difference, and did not have a whole lot of opportunities.
It was a sloppy game going forward, but Liverpool’s defense is what is carrying this team so far. Klopp and his staff have done an incredible job improving this defense, and all that work is going to pay o
ff as the season moves forward. The attack is where I am worried. And that is something I never thought that I would say. This Liverpool front three look like this is their first season playing together. Mo looks off, Mane was a useless ball-hog, and Bobby is nowhere to be seen. Defense is important, but that isn’t going to matter if we don’t have the attacking power to match it. Liverpool’s front three is the problem. Not the back four, not the midfield like it has been in the past. Liverpool has only managed to score three goals in their last three games, and if we want to be legitimate title contenders that is going to have to change. Liverpool takes on Huddersfield next match which should be a confidence boost for a front three that desperately needs it.