This one wasn’t one to call home about, and Liverpool’s 0-0 Sunday draw with Man City at Anfield saw a fitting conclusion when Riyad Mahrez booted his 87th minute penalty kick into outer space.
Were there stars to go with the duds? We found a couple.
Aymeric Laporte — Man City bought the steady center back for games like this, and the 24-year-old Frenchman was busy and composed with the ball even when his backstop was fighting it a bit. That’s no small ask for a center back in a Pep Guardiola system.
The managers, tactically — If there was anything redeeming about this battle, it was watching the tactical nous of both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp over the course of 90 minutes. While the mechanics of Jurgen Klopp’s high press kept Man City wobbly early, Guardiola made some tweaks at halftime that included some forechecking of his own (so to speak). Klopp’s decision not to press as hard once City reached the midfield seemed to have the Citizens off kilter, but Guardiola’s sharp adjustments helped prod what should’ve been the winning penalty kick.
That said, Klopp set his team up to get three points and Liverpool certainly got the wrong end of luck with James Milner‘s injury. Trent Alexander-Arnold has struggled of late against top end attackers, and moving Joe Gomez to right back was a risk that paid dividends. If there’s an edge, it goes to Klopp (especially in light of this video).
Sadio Mane — Mohamed Salah‘s poor shooting is going to deservedly get a lot of guff from this contest, but Mane’s response to Jurgen Klopp calling him out for his selfish dribbling in the loss to Napoli was to… double down on the dribbling.
Riyad Mahrez — Was on the receiving end of almost all of City’s manufactured chances, and wasted every single one. Obviously the penalty kick was awful, but his poor performance extended well beyond that.
Mohamed Salah — I wasn’t going to include him after the mention above, but when a player performs like Salah has for a some time, we have to weigh him against the Messi meter. It’s no coincidence that his cold streak has coincided with Liverpool’s four match unbeaten run, and when you find one for Messi — like his goal in four match run of late 2016 — it’s no surprise Barca went 3D-1L in league play. He worked hard and ground through his poor shooting, but the fact remains that he’s shooting poorly. The Reds win if he’s on his game, and so he gets dud status.