The Reds gave a hard fight to Manchester City but poor finishing let them down...COMMENT
By Shikharr Chandra
It was the perfect advert for Boxing Day football. Manchester City ran out 2-1 winners but for the first time this season the Citizens were really put to test at their own turf, as Vincent Kompany would describe it after the game, "It was the hardest game so far at the Etihad.”
The win for City even further cemented their status as the favourites to win the league but despite the defeat, Liverpool have every reason to be proud of the performance they put in.
Liverpool, unlike most teams this season, did not bow down to the pressure of playing at the Etihad where no side has managed to pick a single point this season.
The Reds should have gone ahead when Luis Suarez's slid in a through ball to Raheem Sterling leaving him one-on-one with the goalkeeper but the English winger was wrongly judged offside.
However they got their reward few minutes later when Suarez and Sterling combined again for Phillipe Coutinho to score. The Brazilian playmaker bagged his second goal of the season and it was only the second time this term that City were trailing at home.
It's not easy battling against a midfield duo of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, especially when you are missing your captain Steven Gerrard. But what has been encouraging for the away side was how well the trio of Joe Allen, Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson have stood up in his absence.
The trio constantly pressed the City midfield and never allowed them space to maneuver. There were occasional goal scoring moments for Toure but it was for the first time this season that the former Barcelona midfielder failed to dictate play.
Liverpool did not see much of the ball that they usually have but then again beating City for possession at their own backyard isn’t easy. Martin Skrtel was at fault for the City equalizer as the defender rather than charging for the ball from the corner decided to wrestle Kompany and the latter headed home.
It turned bad to worse for Liverpool when Alvaro Negredo's effort from outside the box looked to be regulations save for Simon Mignolet. Instead the Belgian keeper made a complete mess out of it resulting in City taking the lead before the end of the first half.
Joe Hart proved Pellegrini’s faith in him wasn’t faulted. The England number one pulled off a string of saves, the most notable being when he denied Coutinho from seven yards out.
Rodgers’tactics and planning were spot-on as they continued with the same zest and energy but failed to take the chances that came their way.
Suarez had a relatively quiet game when it came to testing the goalkeeper but the Uruguayan was regularly carving out opportunities for his team-mates. His combination play with Coutinho and Sterling was very impressive. However it was the finishing which let them down.
The Uruguayan found Sterling with an inviting pass only to see the teenager scuff the ball wide. Suarez tried his bits as well with a rather optimistic 30-yard free kick and a surging run inside the City box only to be brought down.
Should Liverpool have converted the goal scoring opportunities, the scoreline could have been different.
There are a lot of positives to take for Liverpool especially when they travel to Jose Mourinho's Chelsea in a couple of days where they will come up against another impressive home record.