5-0 is usually a scoreline that you would see in games such as Arsenal vs Sutton United or Man United vs Morecambe, not a match between two sides pushing for the Premier League title. However, that’s exactly what happened yesterday as Manchester City thrashed Liverpool by five goals at the Etihad.
The game started fairly evenly and looked set to be an end-to-end match between two of the best attacking-forces in world football at the moment. City broke the deadlock in the 25th minute, with Sergio Aguero sliding into an open net after rounding Simon Mignolet, following a stunning through ball from Kevin De Bruyne, exposing Liverpool’s defensive weakness for the first of many times that day.
After ten minutes of City leading, the game’s major incident happened. Joel Matip played a long pass over the length of the whole midfield and sending the ultra-fast Sadio Mane in on goal if he could get to it. City’s new ‘keeper, Ederson Moraes, had no choice but to come out of his box and challenge the Senegal winger for the ball, and he did so very well, beating Mane to the ball heading it away. However, in the battle to get to the ball, Sadio Mane raised his boot up high to try and dink it over Moraes and subsequently sent his studs through the side of the Portuguese ‘keeper’s face. Moraes collapsed immediately, and, after some gesticulation of the pain he was in, did not move for another seven minutes. Referee John Moss came over to address the situation and soon showed Mane a straight red card.
Moss’ decision has been hotly debated all weekend, with both sides arguing their case strongly. I ran a poll on the twitter page (@_inthedugout_) asking you guys whether you thought it was the right decision, and 75% agreed that Mane deserved a red card. Personally, Mane’s boot was raised very high, and he was endangering the opponent, so, he has to go.
It didn’t take long after the injury to double their lead, with Gabriel Jesus heading home De Bruyne’s whipping cross just before the break.Then, in the 52nd minutes, Aguero opened up the Liverpool defence with ease once more, to slip home Benjamin Mendy’s low cross, only for the linesman’s flag to rule it out for offside. However, it’s didn’t really make much difference, as, from the resulting free kick, City won the ball back and, after yet another long pass slicing open the defence, Aguero tapped it into Gabriel Jesus, who tucked it home for his second of the afternoon. That one counted.
Liverpool didn’t get a sniff at the Man City goal, with substitute goalkeeper Claudio Bravo being but a spectator. City finally got their fourth in the 72nd minute, Leroy Sane, yet another substitute, tapping home a low cross. Goal number five was always on the cards, and Leroy Sane got it in stoppage time, curling a beautiful strike into the top corner to finish off the demolition job.
Liverpool spent all summer clearly trying to buy Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton, but to no avail. The need for a big, strong centre back to partner Joel Masip was as clear as daylight, as Ragnar Klavan and Dejan Lovren just will not cut it. The gaps in the back line were clean open, Masip clearly lacked the pace they needed to keep up with Aguero, Sane and Jesus, Alexander-Arnold and Alberto Moreno were very poor, and Andrew Roberton and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (let’s not forget he’s a central midfielder) are not the solutions to the problem. Liverpool need a strong, experienced and organised centre back to hold the back line together and stop the attacks. They are just too easy to break down.
Yet, you get the feeling that, however poor Liverpool were, City were always going to win. Once Mane had gone Liverpool lost their link between midfield and attack, and couldn’t get near the City goal. City were organised in defence, brilliant in midfield and deadly in attack.
Kevin De Bruyne was excellent yesterday, as he has been for every game this season. He seems to suit playing a deeper role in midfield, where he can pick the ball up from the defence, run forward and play an incisive through ball into the attack. He links brilliantly with David Silva, and Fernandinho, an unsung hero, in my opinion, provide security, safety and accuracy.
City’s next game comes on Wednesday, where they will face Feyenoord in The Netherlands in their first Champions League game of the season, and Liverpool will face Sevilla.
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