What a difference 6 months can make. Back in August the reverse meeting of these 2 sides was a chance for City and Liverpool to lay down markers at the start of the season, and it was the Eastlands club that impressed with a 3-0 demolition of the Merseyside team.
Roy Hodgson was pilloried in the press, by fans, by everyone for coming to City with an open 4-4-2, they were torn apart. There is perhaps therefore a sense of irony, that Roberto Mancini made that same mistake last night with remarkably similar results.
It wouldn’t be fair however to lay the blame entirely at the door of City and Mancini, Liverpool were fantastic and I can not give them enough credit for their display last night. At 3-0 down and only 35 minutes in, the City boss switched system and packed the midfield and City saw a lot more of the ball, not that they could find a way around the well organised Liverpool backline.
Andy Carroll will rightfully steal the headlines, be he was suitably assisted by the sublime Luis Suarez who has taken to the Premier League in spectacular fashion. I think there should also be a notable mention for Jamie Carragher who marshaled the backline supremely well under what limited pressure they did receive from a forlorn City strike force.
It can’t always be sunshine and happiness as a football fan, and last night in the rain it was certainly not that, but nevertheless here are my thoughts and ratings after a cold wet, miserable night at Anfield:
Fabio Aurelio – 7 – Looked dangerous coming forward, put in some nice crosses, dealt with Adam Johnson reasonably well. If he can stay fit, Liverpool don’t need Enrique as much as they think.
John Flanagan – 7 – Very impressive debut, very solid defensively. Showed strength at the back and was impressive coming forward as well.
Jamie Carragher – 8 – Organised, orchestrated and lead the defence supremely well, a rock at the back. He won everything in the air and didn’t give Dzeko a sniff.
Martin Skrtel – 7 – Played well, power presence. Got the job done well and didn’t lapse at all.
Lucas – 7 – Tidy display, didn’t try to over-complicate things. Shielded the defense well and also attacked well at times. Always played the ball quickly and simply, barely misplaced a pass all night.
Jay Spearing – 8 – Massive work rate from the youngster, got around the pitch well and looked more experienced than he is. Could potentially be an important player for the club with more displays like that.
Raul Meireles – 7 – Very solid, orchestrated attacks well. Full of energy, put in some good challenges, and was always available for a pass.
Luis Surez – 8 – Another sublime attacking display from the the forward. Great dribbling, constant threat, caused many problems. Lost count how many times he beat his man, very impressive.
Dirk Kuyt – 8 – Took his goal well with a lovely finish. Once again was always full of energy, worked tirelessly. Considering he is a striker who has been adapted to play from wide, it was very good.
Andy Carroll – 9 – Sublime strike for his first goal, and quality header for his second. Won everything in the air and linked up extremely well with Suarez, Fernando who?
David N’Gog – 5 – No time to do anything
Now the painful part for City fans:
Dedryck Boyata – 5 – Worked hard out of position. Lots of runs forward and never stopped, great potential.
Aleksandar Kolarov – 3 – I hate to say a player isn’t good enough, but Kolarov isn’t. Totally at sea defensively, and consistently lost possession when he came forward, incredibly frustrating for the most part.
Joleon Lescott – 5 – Probably the best City defender on the night, but that isn’t saying much, strong in the air, used strength reasonably well and tried to keep things simple.
Vincent Kompany – 4 – Never got to grips with Carroll, and deflected the ball for 2 goals, could maybe have done more with the 2nd. Not his best performance in a City shirt, but hopefully he will get over it quickly.
Gareth Barry – 5 – Worked hard defensively, but to no real effect, was overrun in the first half, should have been sacrificed for Silva rather than Milner.
Yaya Toure – 6 – Worked tirelessly, overrun in the first half. He hit a great strike in the 2nd half bringing the only real save from Reina all night, looks better playing from deep in my eyes.
Adam Johnson – 5– Tried hard for the cause, but didn’t really achieve anything. Looked tired as the game went on and drifted out of it.
James Milner – 5 – Full of drive, but ineffective on the wing. Far better centrally, and clearly frustrated when he was taken off because he shouldn’t have been subbed for Silva. Could do with a run in the middle of the field to show Mancini what we know he can do!
Carlos Tevez – 5 – Injured early, his potential loss could have a massive effect on the rest of the season.
Edin Dzeko – 4 – Looked out of his depth, although to be fair he needs better service. Had to keep coming deep to receive the ball. City need to be whipping in crosses for Dzeko to achieve anything.
David Silva – 5 – A bright spark when he came on. Showed some invention, and a bit of desire, looked like he wanted it.
Mario Balotelli – 4 – Did nothing. But I suppose that is better than getting frustrated and doing something stupid.
Nigel De Jong – 5 – No time to mark.
Now for the all important post-match award presentations:
Balti Pie Award For Top Performer goes to Andy Carroll. His work rate up front was top quality. Very impressive in the air, and a constant threat, he took both of his goals supremely well. He looks a really good player at the moment, not just his aerial ability but also his link up play with Suarez. Could turn into a really inspired signing, and I really doubt Liverpool will miss Torres if Carroll continues as he is.
Prawn Sandwich Award For Worst Performance for me has to go to Aleksandar Kolarov. I have been questioned on here before for criticising the fullback, but for me he was the worst player on the field last night. He was slow closing down Kuyt for the second, and he was beaten far too easily by Carroll for the third. So, poor at the back, and also poor coming forward, he continually lost the ball in the Liverpool half leaving City open.
All in all a really bad night at the office. I think most of the blame has to be put onto Mancini for getting the system and team wrong, but it wouldn’t be fair to take anything away from Liverpool who were fantastic, Kenny Dalglish is really making things happen over on Merseyside.
Finally I would like to mention briefly the City support, they were immense and loud for the entire game. They deserved a lot more last night, they were fantastic.
For more of my opinions on football about City and the game as a whole, follow me on twitter @soccercityjoe!