The hype will tell you that the draw yesterday between Manchester City and Liverpool was an enthralling, fantastic encounter that was a brilliant football match. By the end of the game, you did come away with the sensation of having seen a game that could have finished 6-4, or some kind of hockey score as Jose Mourinho would derisively put it.
However, there are two reasons as to why that is a bad thing. Firstly, some of the defending was so bad that that many gilt edged chances were being created and secondly, some of the finishing was terrible. It should have finished 6-4.
Consistently poor defending
As we have all seen this year, the defending from both of these teams has been their downfall, with both sides looking as though they will be conceding over 40 goals this season, a statistic that only two title winners over the last 25 years (Manchester United on two occasions) have met.
With the notable exception of John Stones, City were a shambles at the back, with Nicolas Otamendi appearing slow and lumbering, Fernandinho out of position, Yaya Toure clearly unable to run in front of the defence (and duly substituted) and Gael Clichy committing the fatal error to give away Liverpool’s penalty. They were far too open to begin with, and barely knew how to defend when they were asked to.
Liverpool were hardly much better at the back, with Ragnar Klavan showing that he is clearly out of his depth at this level and James Milner appearing overwhelmed at the beginning of the game at full-back.
The chances that did come along for either side, whether it was Sadio Mane, David Silva, Fernandinho in the first half, or Roberto Firmino, Kevin de Bruyne, Adam Lallana (somehow) and Sergio Aguero (twice) were easy to take, and would surely have not come had it been against a better defence.
The terrible misses
The fact that they weren’t taken shows even more deficiencies. There could easily have been eight more goals and both managers were left disappointed after the game by their sides’ profligacy in front of goal. The job of an attacker is to put such opportunities away, and the fact that so many of them didn’t meant that so many of them were not doing as they were supposed to. That’s a lot of off days in both defence and attack for it to be construed as a great football match.
This was the kind of crash, bang, wallop game that has made the Premier League famous and also very popular around the world. I’ve always thought that the Premier League is like a big-budget action movie, that brings in the big money at the box office, has millions of loyal fans and well-paid stars, but isn’t really going to win any awards.
In a week when there have been the inevitable articles asking why the Premier League teams aren’t doing so well in the Champions League, here is a game which serves as evidence as to why they aren’t. Too lax at the back and not clincial enough up front. It’s as simple as that.
Why do English sides underperform in Europe? Are Manchester City and Liverpool accurate examples? Let us know in the comments section below.