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Klopp’s tactics and subs work – 5 talking points from Man City 1-1 Liverpool – Liverpool FC

Liverpool denied Man City a 24th consecutive home win and left the Etihad Stadium with a hard-earned and well-deserved point that hints at their title ambitions.

Man City 1-1 Liverpool

Premier League (13), Etihad Stadium
November 25, 2023

Goals: Haaland 27′; Alexander-Arnold 80′


Liverpool the winners from even contest

Jurgen Klopp said it best speaking ahead of this match when he pointed out that you can play well at Manchester City and still come away with a defeat.

And it looked like Liverpool would be consigned to that fate as they headed into the last 10 minutes of normal time here still trailing to Erling Haaland’s opener.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold scores the first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Fortunately, Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s arrowed finish and the show of resilience that followed means the visitors have come away with a point that their performance entirely merited.

Make no mistake, this was an even contest between two top teams, and in that context the draw is all the more valuable for the Reds given it was played out on City’s turf.

Admittedly, to truly make this result pay in any title race, they will have to ensure they beat Pep Guardiola’s men at Anfield in the reverse fixture.

But thoughts of that contest can wait until much later in the season and so Klopp and his players should use the rest of this weekend to relish a good afternoon’s work.

 

Goal is frustrating

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Manchester City's Erling Haaland scores the opening goal during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Of course, as much as Liverpool will be upbeat about the result and their efforts in this game, there will remain an underlying frustration that is hard to suppress for professionals who demand so much of themselves.

And that relates to the fact that Manchester City were not made to earn the opening goal of a typically tight contest.

Alisson‘s poor kick is the sort of mistake that can happen when you are trying to execute a skill that is beyond so many goalkeepers in this division.

However, there is no excuse for more errors following it in the form of Dominik Szoboszlai and Trent Alexander-Arnold both failing to take up protective positions, allowing Nathan Ake to skip into space and provide the assist.

Virgil van Dijk doesn’t look great when the ball breaks either, but a disorganised back four is a given in moments when you lose the ball unexpectedly.

It is up to the players in front to provide protection in those moments, and you can bet that Klopp will be pointing that out to Szoboszlai and Alexander-Arnold when he reviews this match with his players.

 

Unsung heroes do the job

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Liverpool players form a pre-match team huddle during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Arguably the two biggest surprises from Klopp’s line-up for this game came in starts for Kostas Tsimikas and Joel Matip in defence.

But, as much as supporters might have preferred Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate to be named in that pair’s place, neither let anybody down with their efforts at the Etihad.

Matip came away with a match-high five clearances and four blocked shots to his name, while also showing off some brilliant dribbles that got Liverpool through the City press.

And Tsimikas made three clearances and a key pass as well as rarely being troubled down a flank that might have been considered a potential problem pre-match.

The manager showed big faith in turning to two occasionally maligned squad options in the biggest of games and was rewarded with two excellent performances.

 

Mac Allister quietly impresses in the 6

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Manchester City's Bernardo Silva is dispossed by Liverpool's Alexis Mac Allister during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It seems impossible for a Liverpool match to pass without the use of Alexis Mac Allister as a No.6 emerging as a talking point, but there is every chance his understated performance could have gone under the radar.

Given some of the negativity surrounding the Argentine, you would have thought the best midfield in the Premier League would have walked past him time and time again.

And yet, he ended the game with two interceptions, two clearances, a team-high three tackles, and the Reds’ best passing accuracy of 93.2% – thanks in large part to the midfielders around him keeping thing as compact as they should.

He might not be a holder in the Fabinho mould, and perhaps that is something Klopp will eventually seek, but Mac Allister deserves praise for his contributions to games like this where he quietly goes about the business of getting his team playing.

 

Subs shine again for Reds

Trent Alexander-Arnold #66 of Liverpool celebrates scoring to make it 1-1 during the Premier League match Manchester City vs Liverpool at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, United Kingdom, 25th November 2023 (Photo by Conor Molloy/News Images) Credit: News Images LTD/Alamy Live News

Even with Guardiola opting against making any substitutions, it was always going to be the case that City were going to come on strong in the final moments of this game.

But that Liverpool ultimately held firm owed much to what are now-familiar telling contributions coming from Klopp’s own bench.

Ryan Gravenberch and Luis Diaz both added greater attacking thrust on the counter, while Cody Gakpo brought additional physicality when Dominik Szoboszlai could not run anymore.

And the energy of Harvey Elliott and Wataru Endo was also key as the Reds attempted to keep their hosts at bay in a lengthy spell of injury time.

The strength of this squad has so often told in the final moments of games this season, and that was spelled out again in arguably the toughest Premier League away game of them all.

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