Manchester City and Liverpool played out an unexpected 0-0 draw at Anfield as two of Premier League’s strongest teams went head to head on Sunday evening. The result was rather disappointing as both the teams combined 18 goals in their four meeting in all competitions last season.
Liverpool looked promising at times but lacked any incision in the final third while Manchester City will be kicking themselves for having missed the opportunity of sealing all three points when Riyad Mahrez failed to convert a penalty kick late in the game.
Here are three key talking points from this high-octane encounter.
Dejan Lovren’s return could be a boon for Liverpool
It was a special game for the Liverpool fans as Dejan Lovren made his first start in the Premier League this season. The former Southampton defender hardly featured since starring in Croatia’s excellent World Cup campaign earlier this summer.
However, his return to the starting eleven served as a huge boost for the Reds. Although Lovren wasn’t influential as his defensive partner Virgil van Dijk, he replicated the defensive solidity he shown in the World Cup, putting up a few solid tackles to deny the opposition. Most notably, his well-timed tackle to stop Gabriel Jesus from going further forward, later in the second half was the highlight of his performance against Manchester City.
Therefore, his return will certainly delight coach Jurgen Klopp, who now will three options at his disposal to partner van Dijk in central defence. The former Dortmund coach had a few issues in designating a proper replacement for Lovren in the early of this season, often being perplexed between Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.
Verdict time: Is Riyad Mahrez a flop at Manchester City?
Riyad Mahrez arrived at Manchester City with a great reputation, having played a key role in Leicester’s title-winning campaign back in 2016 whilst being one of the most consistent wingers in the English top flight for the past couple of years.
However, he has struggled to cope with the lofty expectations of Manchester City since, producing a series of mediocre performances throughout the course of this season so far. He often tries to do too much with the ball in an attempt impress Pep Guardiola but mostly ends up giving the ball away cheaply in the final third.
And his performance against Liverpool perfectly capped off his frustrating time since moving to the Etihad. While second-half substitutes like Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus had an instant impact after coming on, Mahrez was lacking that spark to cause any kind of trouble for the Liverpool defence, thereby raising the question as to whether or not is he a right fit for a club like Manchester City.
While it’s still pretty early to have a clear-cut conclusion, he certainly needs to improve his performances if he is to make a lasting impact in his first season with the Sky Blues.
The Liverpool attack is starting to dissipate
Liverpool started the season in an extraordinary fashion with their revered front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah replicating their telepathic understanding, which was prevalent last season.
However, in the last few weeks or so, they haven’t been able to perform quite well, which coincides with Liverpool’s winless run. Mohamed Salah, in particular, has struggled with his final end product throughout this season. Although he deserves a lot of credit for his tireless attacking endeavours in the final third, the Egyptian has yielded very little of the desired end product, which was evident against City.
Sadio Mane, too, struggled to influence the game while Roberto Firmino racked up only a handful number of touches before being replaced by Daniel Sturridge in the 72nd minute. Thus, coach Jurgen Klopp definitely needs to resolve his side’s decaying offensive impact before the end of the international break, failing which could spell further trouble for the German mastermind.