By Charles Ong
It was yet again a recurring theme. Liverpool have proven themselves to be a side that generously gives over the course of the season, and the 2-2 draw at Etihad Stadium was no different.
Much like how it was at Anfield earlier this season, an individual error from Liverpool meant that both sides shared the spoils. Skrtel, and more recently Reina, came under criticism – and rightly so. Such lapses in concentration or poor decision-making have cost the Reds points. And on the balance of things and over 180 minutes – arguably – Liverpool should have taken the full six points.
But they haven’t, and given the threadbare nature of the side that Rodgers was armed with at the start of the season, they should not be expected to. However in these instances against the current Premier League Champions, they have undoubtedly punched above their weight and made the rest of the country look up and take notice.
The blueprint that Rodgers wanted to implement when he was roped in is finally starting to take shape. At the beginning, things haven’t looked as rosy but recent results suggest that Liverpool are now officially an up-and-coming side, and one to watch within the next few years. Their progress might not be Arab-esque – in the sense that you pour in billions of dollars and suddenly you have a championship-winning team – but rather a side that is in transition, in slow and steady progress.
Take for instance the City game. Liverpool never allowed Mancini’s men to settle into the game and the Reds were on top of everything, in every department. Ultimately, this benchmark proved that Liverpool can compete – and compete well. The likes of Suarez, Sturridge, Gerrard and even Henderson posed a threat to City’s midfield and defence and the movement - particularly in the final third - was clever, fluid and mobile.
That’s what Rodgers is looking for: whereby no players are bound to a chain by being required to play in fixed positions, and where the shackles are released especially in the final third so that the players can use their intelligence to do the appropriate, as what they deem fit.
Sturridge’s game was in particular very interesting. He seems to have an innate talent to find inches of pace. Take for instance his goal, where he was initially surrounded by rings of City defenders, only to drop deeper to avoid their attention before receiving a ball and smashing it past Hart. To any observer’s eye, probably moving backwards whilst Liverpool are in attack isn’t exactly the right thing to do, but Sturridge has instead shown how it can be done and how it is done.
The options in the final third, especially after the addition of Coutinho, look drooling. Granted, the two draws against Arsenal and City have left Liverpool trailing nine points as they seek to close the gap in the last thirteen games.
It’s definitely a tough ask, but worth a go – and it’ll be a good go at that with the bunch of players, and the form Liverpool are in right now.