By Oliver Platt
As the clock ticked over 54 minutes at Anfield, Joe Allen, finding himself trapped with few options and little space on the left-hand side near the halfway line, turned and swung a long pass back to his goalkeeper, Pepe Reina.
Reina controlled the pass calmly, distributed the ball to a defender and Liverpool set off again. In truth, the Manchester City strikers might have been bearing down on the goalkeeper a little too closely for Brendan Rodgers' liking but the moment did showcase his side's new confidence in possession and determination not to concede the ball lightly.
It also demonstrated the importance of the signing of Allen, a player well versed in Rodgers' methods having played under the Northern Irishman for two seasons with Swansea City. He knows as well as anyone that Rodgers will take responsibility for errors that arise as a result of the style of play he promotes and insists, if carried out consistently, it will produce results.
And this was not the sole example as, 26 minutes later, Martin Skrtel, scorer of Liverpool's first goal, turned back under pressure and badly under-hit a routine pass back to Reina which Carlos Tevez intercepted and slotted in to earn Manchester City a share of the points.
The mistake was less a result of the adjustment period that the Liverpool players will need to adapt to Rodgers' methods and more a glaring error made by one of the most experienced players in a young team.
|LIVERPOOL 2-2 MAN CITY
|Skrtel gave the hosts a deserved lead in the first half, but a lapse in concentration allowed Tevez to earn his side a point with his 100th goal in England
Mistakes, unfortunately, proved the story of the day for the Reds, with Martin Kelly's failure to control or clear a cross having allowed Yaya Toure to cancel out Skrtel's opening goal, a thumping header from a corner in the first half.
This performance, though, delivered more reason for optimism than doubt. Liverpool put their disastrous start to the season against West Brom behind them to produce an energetic display that excited a raucous Anfield crowd.
And they did it without Daniel Agger, who was suspended following his sending off against the Baggies, and Lucas Leiva, substituted in the early stages having picked up an injury during the warm-up that he could not shake off. The inexperienced quintet of Kelly, Allen, Sebastian Coates, Jonjo Shelvey and Raheem Sterling all played the majority of the fixture.
They took the initiative and deserved to beat the defending champions. Allen was as precise as ever, seeing out the first half with a pass completion rate of 100 per cent and successfully fulfilling added defensive responsibilities in the absence of Lucas. Shelvey continues to keep midfielders that commanded far higher transfer fees out of the team, while Gerrard spread the ball left and right and showed that his expansive style is compatible with ‘tiki-taka’.
Weaknesses remain. Fabio Borini and Luis Suarez ran willingly but were too often kept to the peripheral areas of the penalty box and neither have proven that they can supply a consistent source of goals.
Suarez is spectacular at his best and plundered a wonderfully executed low free kick past Joe Hart to restore the Reds' lead, but Rodgers cannot expect goals like that week in, week out. Liverpool must find a ruthless edge and a consistency that they can rely on when Anfield is not rocking in anticipation of the visit of one of the league's finest sides.
The result was bittersweet, Allen said, from a Liverpool perspective. There is work to be done, but the steps Rodgers' team took forward here should eventually prove more significant than the two points they conceded.