For 40 minutes it looked good and I had a feeling that Liverpool would snatch it, 1-0. But then everything fell apart defensively and after a while the defeat was inevitable. The 1-3-loss versus Manchester City yesterday was both unnecessary and damaging to the red confidence.
On the whole it was a dissatisfying performance from Liverpool last night. All three goals could have been avoided. Every time some kind of defensive error was involved. But the most worrying thing is that we showed too little determination, penetration, courage and decisiveness in the final third. When the Reds reached the opponent´s penalty area we often ran out of ideas and the finishing was weak and without belief. Hopefully Mario Balotelli can spark some power and quality to the attacks. We certainly need it.
I had high hopes ahead of the big match yesterday. I believed that Liverpool could match Manchester City. They did, in every way for 40 minutes and was even the better team, creating more, being tighter at the back and having more possession. But the real penetration never materialised and when a defensive mistake (when will they be erased?) gave the hosts a gift for 1-0 it all crumbled. Not directly, but slowly and surely Liverpool succumbed to the opposition and every aspect of the play got worse as the clock ticked down.
When 2-0 came our self-confidence drained dramatically and not even a late surge could alter the outcome. Liverpool must learn to be defensively steady under pressure when we go behind and feel mental strain. Right now we fold and play worse with every setback instead of getting annoyed and insulted by events and really have a go to rectify the situation. Just like the Liverpool of old felt and did.
Our passing and pressing was quite good in the first half but in the second half we looked tired. A lot of players who had been in thick of things disappeared. And when it came to the final ball or to finishing we were not good enough. Both Jordan Henderson and Rickie Lambert had excellent chances to score but squandered them with poor decision making and slow reactions.
The football was pretty at times and the players put in a respectable shift but in general we lacked conviction, smartness, cleverness, vigour and efficiency.
Okay, Liverpool met the reigning champions in their own den but it was a real waste to miss out on the three points. They were there for the taking, especially as Man City was disjointed for 40 minutes, but the Reds never really tried or didn´t realize it was possible. A win would have given us a explosive take off in the title race, now we are haplessly plodding behind City. A victory versus Tottenham in the next game is now a must otherwise our title hopes are in danger of being dashed, smashed and crashed.
Here are my ratings for the Reds that participated in the second match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 3.
Not a good showing from our goalie. All three goals were saveable. He should have made himself bigger for the first, been braver and more alert for the second and not left a gaping hole at the near post for the third. It looked like Pepe Reina was back.
RB Glen Johnson 2.
Is is unexplicable what the manager sees in Johnson. Yesterday he lost possession all the time, tried impossible things and was always in the wrong place in defence. Not good enough for Liverpool.
CB Martin Skrtel 5.
Started in a commanding way and looked stable and confident. But when Man City began to swarm around the Liverpool penalty area he lost a lot of his assurance.
CB Dejan Lovren 5.
Lovren dominated the City attack both in the air and on the ground in the first half. But like Skrtel his self-confidence drained with the goals and his effort worsened.
LB Alberto Moreno 4.
Attacked and defended eagerly in the opening half but was wrongly positioned from time to time. In connection with the first goal he was caught napping. Decent debut though.
DM Steven Gerrard 4.
Gerrard didn´t contribute to something special in going forward and was too often out of position when City attacked. Should play higher up the pitch, he is not good as a sitting midfielder.
RM Jordan Henderson 3.
Seemed like he ran around without purpose. Henderson was too slow in his decisions and always a yard wrong in his defensive work. Sorry, but I think he is grossly overrated.
LM Joe Allen 4.
Gave speed to the Liverpool play in the beginning and passed the ball well. But his performance deteriorated alarmingly inte the second half until he was completely invisible.
LW Philippe Couthino 4.
Another below par effort from the Brazilian. Okay, some initial initiatives and probing was promising but his passing was wayward. What has happened to his accuracy?
RW Raheem Sterling 6.
Best player on the pitch in the first half when he gave the home defence all sorts of problems. Tired and faded in the second half and got substituted.
S Daniel Sturridge 4.
Took himself to a couple of dangerous situations but on the whole he gave the home defence too little to worry about. Must learn to play more one-twos instead of always trying something fancy.
LW Lazar Markovic 4. (Replaced Philippe Coutinho after 60 mins).
A couple of quick runs and some fine exchanges with Moreno raised hopes for the future. But this time nothing came out of his efforts.
LM Emre Can 3. (Replaced Joe Allen after 75 mins).
Didn´t make any difference when he came on. Made his physical presence felt a few times but wasn´t on enough time to give an impression.
S Rickie Lambert 4. (Replaced Raheem Sterling after 79 mins).
Just as against Southampton Lambert´s cameo gave Liverpool an aerial danger in the penalty area and he forced Zabaleta to an own goal. Had a great chance to score but bottled it.
This encounter promised so much for 40 minutes but in the end it was only disappointment left. Okay, some glimmer of hope remains and now Tottenham must pay for this defeat on Sunday when:
We go again.