Well now, how is everyone's blood pressure looking after this affair? For me, I should not be going to my doctors anytime in the near future! Anyway, the lineup for this match against Liverpool was what I was hoping it'd look like against QPR, up front that is. Dzeko got a much-deserved start and Tevez a much needed rest.
Early on City's attack was playing with a sense of urgency, and it was much needed given our standing in the league table. Milner, Dzeko, Aguero and Silva worked well together to build up chances on goal. On the other hand, the defense looked the worse for wear as Liverpool's attack scared our back four into poor decisions. When pressure was applied from Suarez and Sturridge, Lescott and Nasty struggled to make comfortable clearances, passes, or tackles. The shakiness at the back was summed up when Zaba played a ball back to Hart, and with a moment of miscommunication, almost cost City a loss and own goal. In their defense, Suarez and Sturridge are two of the fastest strikers in the league, and when combined with their dribbling and shooting ability, makes them a tough duo for any team to defend.
Back to the offense, the forwards played extremely well together, playing fluent one-twos with one another. Coming off a throw-in, Milner made a beautiful run into the box and sent a cross to Dzeko who comfortably slotted the ball into the back of the net making it 1-0 to City. The mentality of the team today was very aggressive and looked to take full advantage of the height in the box (Dzeko), throwing balls towards the Bosnian striker when available. Today, Milner played most likely his best match this season, he was all over the pitch and without him in the game, I believe, City would have lost (I know that's pretty obvious given his contributions, but you get the point!).
On to the biggest talking point of the first half, the no foul call on Dzeko that led to the Sturridge goal. It definitely was a foul, in my opinion, with that being said, it was completely fair for Liverpool to play on and not play the ball out when Dzeko laid on the ground. It wasn't a head injury, so it was not necessary for them to play the ball out. Dzeko should have gotten up once he knew milking it wasn't paying off and got himself back into the game.
Until Sturridge's goal, the back line, as shaky as they were, were doing a decent job of containing the Liverpool strikers and slowing their opportunities to break out. After the goal though, play began to open up and lots of pressure was applied by Liverpool in counter attack situations. We continue to be inconsistent on defending corners and Liverpool almost capitalized on one late in the first half. Thankfully for my heart's shake, the half time whistle blew without either team retaining a lead.
The second half began very poorly for City, as Liverpool held much of the possession early and looked to be the side most likely to take the lead and three points. As we know, they ultimately did take the lead, but weren't able to retain all three points. The subsitution of Kolarov for Nasty, introduced a tactical change from Mancini as we switched to a 3-5-2 (Zaba, Lescott and Clichy at the back). The change, surprisingly, was a positive one not only offensively, but defensively too. I was nervousto say the least when we made the change because we struggled to contain Liverpool's attack with four at the back, what's going to happen with three?! But, the change spread Liverpool out, and gave City much more room to operate in the box. Silva, who was extremely quiet during the match, for the most part (the pass to Milner is the exception), thrived in the 3-5-2. As we know, as Silva goes, City goes. The momentum was starting to change from the red jersey's to the sky blue, but then Steven Gerrard happened. In proper Stevie G fashion, he fired a brilliant shot towards goal, off a volley, and passed the diving Hart. At this point panic began to set in as I believe there was no chance we could get points out of the match. Thankfully, Liverpool began to act like the team they had been all season long; this time the victim was Pepe Reina. Reina's mistake of coming for a ball in his box that he couldn't reach, led to an incredible goal by Aguero. I still have no idea how Aguero was able to put that ball in the net, but I don't ask questions when the result is a city goal J.
In the end, City needed all three points from this game but was unable to get them. I was extremely disappointed in the team today, although we fought back we never put "the nail in the coffin," when we had the chance. We will need more from the team on all fronts going forward, and pray that United finagling start losing the games they have to come back in.
Now, it's time for the super bowl! For all of those who have a vested interest in either the 49ers or Ravens, "may the odds be ever in your favor." Yeah I just quoted hunger games so what!?!
Interesting tweet from BBC sports: Man City boss Roberto Mancini told BBC Sport: "The strikers didn't play well. We didn't play well as a team. We were too nervous."
Note: As I was writing this, I was watching AC Milan play. Mario scored his first goal for AC Milan in about the 24th minute. FORZA MARIO!!
Aguero (8) - Tough to decide between him or Milner for MotM today. He turned extremely well and applied constant pressure to the Liverpool back four. And, not to mention his physics defying goal as icing on the cake for him.
Dzeko (6) - Glad to see him get the start today, he did very well to get himself in space for Milners pass. My only gripe for him this game is not getting back into the play quicker when Sturridge scored. He may not have changed to action but you never know.
Silva (5) - Very quiet today and didn't see much of the ball, which was not a good sign for City's attack effectiveness. When we switch to a 3-5-2 though, he saw more of the ball and City in turn had more chances on goal.
Milner (8) - My man of the match today. He was all over the pitch, not only supplying Dzeko the pass for a goal, but on the defensive side as well. I found his defensive game much more impressive than his attacking game. That is not to say he did horribly attackin, but he made important tackles when City needed him too.
Barry (7) - Very similar game to Milner's, making strong tackles at the back and retaining possession at midfield when Liverpool attacked.
Garcia (6) - The pairing of him and Barry at defensive midfield is working out extremely well. They both possess a workman like attitude that is needed in their position. His height is giving City another option to aim at from corners.
Clichy (6) - Adapted very well to the switch when we switched to 3-5-2, his speed on the wing was much needed today to stick with the speedy attack of Liverpool. He contained Suarez very well today.
Lescott (4) - He and Nasty looked over matched at the start, and towards the end as well. Lescott isn't the fastest center back and it showed today, plus not having seen an attack like Liverpool since his international duty, I wasn't surprised he struggled to keep up.
Nasty (4) - Coming off an injury, I was really interested to see how he would play coming back and having to face Suarez and Sturridge. He was beaten a few times and the paces of the Liverpool forwards seem to overwhelm him at times. He is young and will improve, so this is a learning experience for him.
Zaba (6) - Another "Pablo Strong" performance by the Argentinean defender. He was incredible stable at the back, and when he was on Suarez in the open field I was confident City would get the ball back, and they did.
Hart (3) - Should have stopped the Sturridge goal, and I'm sure he'd say the same. He played poor goal kicks into play a few times as well, not very impressed by him today, but I'm only one person
Kolarov (5) - Like what he adds to the attack, although I don't think it's much. He had a few opportunties to change the game on free kicks but was unable too.
Maicon- no time to judge
Nasri- No time to judge