The Manchester City vs. Liverpool game was exciting. The first half was so open and back and forth, it seemed at any moment a goal was likely to happen for either team. But there were some lessons to be taken from this game that we all probably already knew.
1: Sometimes the Refs get it wrong.
While some might argue there is technology in place to prevent such mistakes from happening, currently the human element of refereeing continues to add some... spice to the game. It is one of the things that makes the game so special, unique and frustrating. The 19th minute offside ruling against young Raheem Sterling is the latest page in a book filled with officiating gaffs, but it is certainly not going to be the last.
2: Aly Cissokho is just not good enough.
While he performed better than he had in weeks past (with the exception of a frightening opening 15 minutes or so), Aly Cissokho is just not good enough to be in this league and certainly not for a Liverpool squad looking to break into the top four or possibly make a title run. If possible, Rogers should look in January to return his borrowed left back in the hopes of getting a receipt, some money back and an exchange. Isn't that what January is all about?
3: Liverpool look weak defending set pieces.
Each and every corner kick had the nail biting feel of a group shower scene in Shawshank Redemption. For all the ferocity, and volume of our center backs, Pool look likely to give up a goal at nearly each and every corner kick. Until the players learn to mark a man, and handle physical opponents without initiating an early shirt exchange, Pool are going to continue to struggle.
4: Martin Skrtel looks likely to give up a penalty at any moment.
In recent weeks there has been an rising murmur in the media about our favorite Slovakian's propensity for shirt pulling. Whether this stems from a fear of last years debacle against big center forwards, fear of losing his place in the lineup, or just fear of men still wearing shirts, Skrtel must be careful. Each week he looks more and more likely to give up a penalty, and surely the refs are hearing about it in the media. How long before a ref goes into the game with a newspaper article or blog post in the back of his mind, looking for Skrtel to grab a shirt and calls a penalty?
5: Liverpool's squad is too thin.
This week, Rogers was quoted as saying he was down to 17 senior players as a result of the injury to Jon Flannagan. While this is obvious enough, it is not only the numbers that are lacking but the lack in quality outside of the starting eleven. You only have to look at the names on the fill in sheet for validation of that when Cissokho, Moses and Aspas come into the game. Moses and Aspas especially were non-existent and for all intents and purposes when Coutinho and Lucas left the field it seemed Liverpool went down to 9 men on the field.
6: Being a goalkeeper is a thankless job.
Late last night after watching the game I noticed this article which credits Man City for capitalizing on Simon Mignolet's "howler". In Europe (if you don't know) a howler is a horrible mistake or goof in sports. I think it's incredibly harsh to consider that a mistake on the part of the Belgian keeper. He does nearly everything right, comes off his line to cut the angle and in what quickly becomes a one on one situation, he shifts his body to protect the goal scorer's 'by the book' shot. The shot 'should' have gone across the keeper to the far post, which is the guess Mignolet made. A piece of incredible ingenuity and skill from Alvaro Negredo slotted it into the back of the net. To me, having played between the sticks for several years, this was akin to a full speed penalty, where the keeper simply chose wrong. This is an injustice both to Mignolet, who did well and has done well all season, and to Negredo who deserves credit for a good skillful take on goal.
For an example of an ACTUAL howler, one need look no further than Robert Green's horrific keeping blunder in the World Cup against the USA. Now that's a howler!
7: Glen Johnson is not the player he used to be.
I am not sure if it is strategic or what, but Glen Johnson, for me, seems to be quickly fading into anonymity. By far one of the best right backs in the game for the past few years, and truly flourishing under Rogers last year, he has struggled to be involved this term. Often getting caught in possession, dribbling into no-win situations, or getting blown past on defense he has appeared a few steps short on pace, a few breaths short on wind, and a few pounds heavy on the legs. With young Jon Flannagan playing so well, if Jose Enrique were to get fit, Johnson might find himself watching a few matches from the stands rather than on the pitch.
8: Man City have some excellent players.
Who could watch Yaya Toure fighting both Lucas and Cissokho in the box and staying on his feet, or blowing past Johnson in the box and not be in awe of the big midfielder. Or what about the ever consistent and implacable Vincent Company, who was able to score while being undressed, and climbed upon by Skrtel. At each corner kick, I half expected to see the Slovakian on the Belgian's back as Company soared through the air to land another magnificent header. All that was missing was for Skrtel to join in Company's goal celebrations, because surely he was just as much a part of it. Oh and let us not forget all the other players on Man City who grab headlines nearly every week for their incredibly slick, talented play.
9: Man City are tough to beat at home.
Having not lost a single point at home all season, is it really a surprise that City were so dominate in this game? Liverpool did well all throughout to take the game to the hosts, but in the end talent - and big wallets - won the day.
10: Man City are favorites to win the league.
City are the bookies favorites to win the league and it is little doubt as to why. Prolific goal scoring, phenomenal home record and a new coach who seems to have revitalized seasoned players while bringing in the new ones in a seamless transition. While Arsenal currently top the table, they look fragile and have a history of imploding at the end of the season. City remain the team to beat in this years league, which is forming up so nicely to be quite an exciting points table.
Liverpool did exceptionally well all game. Had luck gone their way (or the occasional shot) Liverpool would be topping the table, and everyone would be talking about them as possible league winners having broken the perfect City record at home. As it stands, Liverpool are in good league position and did very well against the favorites City, who know that while they won, Pool did an excellent job of bloodying their noses a bit. Liverpool should walk off this match with their heads held high, knowing that in a couple of circumstances they were not far off of drawing or, bad calls from Refs aside, possibly winning the contest.