Did Jurgen Klopp's tactics nullify Manchester City?
By Joe Harker
It's not often that Pep Guardiola's Manchester City side fails to score. Only a handful of teams have managed it and fewer still have been able to shut them out on multiple occasions. The 0-0 draw at Anfield was the third time that Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side have shut down City's attack since Guardiola took over.
Not long ago few would have suggested that Liverpool were capable of an assured defensive display against top opposition, but they managed it against City. Both sides had just two shots on target as Liverpool sent City back to the Etihad with only a point and disappointment to show for their troubles.
Although Liverpool managed to shut out City they have problems in other areas. The regular forward trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are not firing like they did last season. Salah is without a goal in his last four games, Firmino hasn't scored any in the past five and Mane's drought runs for seven matches.
Liverpool are also winless in their last four games, despite Klopp's assertions that he is happy. Perhaps it is because they are third in the Premier League table, tied with City and Chelsea on points and only behind on goal difference. Maybe it's because they're finally out of a hellish run of games against exceptionally tough opposition. While Klopp may have wanted to win those games his side are still in a very strong position and can now hope things will be a little easier.
Things could have been very different for Liverpool had Riyad Mahrez not blasted a late penalty over the bar. Klopp's boys had held off City and looked set to escape with a point before Virgil Van Dijk brought down Leroy Sane in the box. Mahrez has only scored three of the eight penalties he has taken since entering the Premier League, leading some to wonder why he was on spot kick duty with his poor record from the spot.
That was not the only penalty shout of the game, as Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren had an incident with City striker Sergio Aguero. No penalty was given and Aguero didn't protest the decision much but Team Talk's ref review panel believe one should have been given. They agree that Lovren's contact Aguero was "clearly a foul", meaning that City could have had another chance to score from the spot.
On another day Manchester City could have had another penalty given and perhaps not taken them in so poor a manner, but Klopp cannot be held responsible for individual mistakes. For much of the game his Liverpool side dug in and defended resolutely, stopping City's fearsome attack. After the game Klopp said that the penalty miss had been "deserved luck" for his side's resolute performance.
Liverpool's defence has become much stronger in the past year and if the manager can get the forward line firing again they can try and establish themselves as the frontrunners for the Premier League this season.