Liverpool thrashed Manchester City 3-0 at Anfield, resulting in a comeback of feel good factor among their fans and players after that Wembley disappointment and leaving City’s chances to stay in the title race fade away.
Jurgen Klopp made five changes to the lineup that featured in Wembley for Capital One Cup final. A reshuffled back four saw starts for Lovren, Toure and young Flanagan; Clyne started at left-back as Flanagan was given his original position to begin with after long injury spell. Midfield pair of Can and Henderson was retained in the lineup; Lallana, Firmino and Milner were playing in behind the striker Divock Origi.
Let’s take a look at Reds’ lineup for the game and analyse through few performances :-
Can and Henderson were very good on and off the ball, both recognised that City have threats on both sides of the pitch in wide areas, they protected their fullbacks nullifying crossing dangers. Can was good in ball retention in deeper midfield areas, that deep mid press is perfectly suited for him which doesn’t allow opposition no 10 to have free space, Henderson was good alongside him, still not back to his very best but regaining lost grounds quickly now is the skipper. The England midfielder was good in his passing, he pressed in tight spaces so that City cannot play one touch football.
Milner was very energetic against his old club, he pressed City’s fullbacks on both sides and centrally too, his floating role in the team makes him unmarkable, there was an instance when Liverpool played some excellent stuff from right hand side, Firmino played the ball to Milner with City centre-backs marking Origi, the Englishman’s first touch was impeccable which enabled him to go past onrushing Zabaleta and slotted it past Hart.
Lallana was by far Liverpool’s best player on the pitch, he was flexible and his ability to press in tight spaces and then counter-press in own half is something that makes him an integral part of this Klopp-era Liverpool. He used the windy Anfield to good effect by shooting from 25 yards out and beating Joe Hart near post.
Firmino continued his good form with a goal and an assist, he was again influential centrally to retain ball higher up the pitch and also midfield covering whenever necessary to balance out the play, getting caught in offside on more than few occasions is a thing that should be rectified by Brazilian.
The main focus of today’s analysis is the performance of the two fullbacks Clyne and Flanagan. Clyne was playing at left-back today for only the second time this season, Flanagan started his first Premier League game in more than 18 months. City should have felt that right this is the opportunity to carve out Liverpool from wide areas, but both players played some good stuff and nullified any wide threats into the box. Both were very keen on defending first then attacking.
Flanagan had to deal Sterling in the first half and was excellent, the main attribute was he never became extra-tight on City man, just pressed in right moments and made cynical tackles to disrupt the progress. The other good thing with young Flanagan is he always remains wide in attacking third of the pitch, he will never tuck in and try to be a goal-scorer himself, providing width so that tracking back is easier just makes him a complete fullback who can balance the team on both fronts of the pitch.
All in all Klopp was a happy man after the game, he was pleased to see his team press in deeper situations too and not allowed City to play freely. The main aspect was stable defence throughout the game, players tracking back and covering up was a good thing. Good team performance and a good reaction to that Final loss to the same opposition.
By Mizgan Ahmed on 3rd March, 2016
Twitter – @mizgans