Hoodoo. Curse. Psychological barrier. Call it whatever you want. Manchester City finally overcame them all to win a match against Liverpool at Anfield. And the Blues did it in emphatic fashion trashing Jurgen Klopp’s men 4-1 at their backyard.
Obviously, there were many positives in the game. But there were some negatives as well. One of them was another penalty miss by a City player.
Raheem Sterling was knocked down in the box by Fabinho to earn City a well-deserved penalty deep into the first half. In the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan stepped up to take the spot-kick. The result was an all too familiar scenario in recent times. He missed. The German ballooned the ball up and over the bar into the stands.
Man City have been awarded four penalties in the Premier League this season. De Bruyne coolly dispatched the first one against Wolves during the team’s first game of the campaign. Since then it has been one miss after another.
The Belgian missed against Liverpool during the first leg at the Etihad Stadium. That cost City all three points. Raheem Sterling has also missed one. In fact, the winger made the record books after his miss against Brighton last month. He became the first Premier League player in more than three years to miss three spot-kicks in a row.
Gundogan’s latest miss calls for a search for a lasting solution to what is fast becoming a big problem. The reason is simple. There are games where a penalty could make the difference between winning and losing. Guardiola knows this and has toyed with the idea of letting his goalkeeper take charge of penalty duties.
The City boss previously claimed that Ederson is the best penalty taker in the team. The Brazilian shot-stopper also said he believes he is the best man for the job. But he claimed the manager will not let him handle the responsibility. However, with the recent miss, the gaffer is now considering that option.
Speaking to the BBC after the Anfield ambush on Sunday, he finally succumbed to the idea as a solution to penalty misses.
“It’s a problem that we have. In important moments, we cannot miss it, and it doesn’t matter the taker. Again, I’m going to think about Ederson, he might be the taker next time,” Guardiola stated.
That may well be an idea whose time has come.
Coincidentally, Liverpool were able to level the game 1-1 in the 63rd minute from the penalty spot. In the home and away encounters, both of the Reds’ goals were penalty kicks by Mohamed Salah. Man City missed both of theirs. Good enough the team went ahead to score three more.
But we all know the reigning champions are in a bad place at the moment. On another day and at full strength, it would not be that easy (especially at Anfield). Waiting 18 years to get a win on the ground says it all.
So in difficult games that are decided by fine margins, such opportunities should not be passed up. Every penalty should be expertly dispatched like Salah is doing for the home side at the moment.
And if Ederson is the man that can get the job done, by all means, let him do the job. The man is even craving for it and the team will benefit.