Illustrated Premier League Match Report: Liverpool 1 – 1 Manchester City like you’re probably used to seeing from here by now
Let’s get right into it. City started with a front three of Aguero, Nasri, and Silva. No Balotelli or Dzeko meant no big center forward, Mancini opting for twinkle-toed subtlety over the smash and grab–a sensible move considering the physicality of Liverpool’s big strong center backs Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel.
Nasri hasn’t been getting much playing time, and one wonders what’s been going through his head now he’s playing second fiddle to David Silva after being a central figure in the team at Arsenal. Probably he just sits on the benches/in the stands, counting money and sighing.
Anyway the teams were wearing black armbands for Gary Speed and also one of Liverpool’s backup goalkeepers’ dead child (cancer). It seems like these black armbands have become pretty much inescapable and I feel like they’re standard procedure now, the massive international capitalist enterprises taking every chance they get to appear caring and well-intentioned as they pick our pockets.
The game got off to a good quick start, with surprisingly adventurous play from both sides. Skrtel and Johnson barreled over each other early on for some slapstick although the cock-up went unpunished score-wise.
Less than fifteen minutes in Kompany got a yellow card, Suarez drew him into a foul. The Uruguayan overplayed the impact to force a result, as he is wont to do, but the yellow was fairly obvious all the same so the acting was just unnecessary. Typical Luis.
Early on it seemed like either City’s plan was to get Liverpool players booked or Liverpool’s plan was to bully City players. I don’t know, just saying Aguero and Milner also fell down “injured” within the first 15 minutes. Aguero got caught by an elbow in the face and Milner I forget what happened but point is the game was intense and a bit scrappy.
At about fifteen minutes in a sloppy backpass from Jose Enrique forced Reina to run the fuck out his box and only just manage to elude a charging Aguero to clear it. This incident set up a theme in the game of excellent goalkeeping from both sides.
It was astonishingly open. City would work fun little weaving plays in and around Liverpool’s box with great potential but few real chances, while Liverpool did the same to City. Besides being open the game was pretty even, surprisingly. Liverpool’s build-up play was at times just as good as City’s.
HOWEVER, despite all the nice build-up play of both teams it was a header from a corner by Vincent Kompany that opening the scoring at the half hour mark. Funny how the world is innit?
Why Liverpool had DIRK KUYT marking Kompany, I’ll never know.
Soon as that goal went in we all collectively braced ourselves for another City slaughter, but happily it wasn’t to be.
Less than two full minutes after a City central defender scored, the other City central defender scored at the other end. Charlie Adam managed to get a bit of space and time free thirty or so yards out and let rip. It was going well wide but Joleon Lescott bizarrely stuck his foot out and deflected the ball into the net. 1-1, game on, yadda yadda.
So there it is, 1-1. Game over, right? WRONG, STUPID. THE GAME WAS DEFINITELY NOT OVER.
First and most importantly, Mancini reacted to Liverpool’s equalizer by going absolutely bonkers. Just take a look:
See what I mean? The man has clearly become slightly unhinged.
Over the next ten minutes Liverpool had a better spell of possession against City than any I’ve seen since Bayern Munich gave them a proper spanking at the Allianz Arena. They just kept coming and coming, City only barely hanging on.
Eventually City managed to get the ball back and slow the game down. As the half ended Reina had to make a save from an Aguero shot, the end product of some niiiice 1-2 play with Silva. And down the tunnel they went.
As the second half got underway, City seemed to have the edge, particularly in the comedy department.
In the 62nd minute, Yaya Toure and Micah Richards collided and fell over each other, with Lucas quickly getting sucked into the pile. This led me to ponder, if they were the Three Stooges, who would be who?
Lucas would clearly be Larry–the hair gives it away. Next I think Toure would be Moe and Richards Curly, because it seemed more like the young English right-back was the source of the slapstick routine with the elder Ivorian an exasperated accomplice.
I miss those guys.
Moving on: two minutes later Nasri got subbed off for Mario Balotelli! As if this game wasn’t enough fun already. He had a new haircut–his mohawk was died blonde and there were swirly patterns shaved into it. Pretty sweet.
Two minutes later, a scuffed shot from Stuart Downing drew an absolutely brilliant acrobatic reflex save from Joe Hart.
In the 70th minute, Martin Skrtel slipped on the grass and Balotelli looked to be one on one with Pepe Reina…except he too slipped instantly after. Wet grass, yall. It’s bound to happen.
In the 75th minute Balotelli started to make more of an impact on the game by blatantly pulling a Liverpool guy off balance by the arm and getting a yellow card.
The Italian’s yellow was in the middle of a superb ten minutes of attacking play by Liverpool. They enjoyed almost uninterrupted possession and kept mounting attack after attack after attack, each one better and more dangerous than the last. But none, oddly, managed to achieve the desired goal.
How could this happen? Well, to tell the truth, it was Dirk Kuyt’s fault. The Dutchman was his usual hard-working energetic self, but had a terrible game in the final third. He couldn’t seem to pick the right killer pass and his finishing was about as clinical as a swamp.
In the 82nd minute, Edin Dzeko came on for Sergio Aguero.
Immediately following the substitution, THAT thing happened. You know what I’m talking about. Balotelli, looking to maybe jump to head a ball flying his way, lifted his left arm right into the face of an oncoming Martin Skrtel. It was another pretty clear foul, and the referee gave Super Mario his inevitable second yellow, sending the striker off.
Such a scamp, that one.
The commentator took the opportunity to tear Balotelli a new one. It was a rant of epic proportions. I heard the word “stupid” something like 5974613 times, give or take.
Needless to say a certain Roberto Mancini was less than impressed by the haste and efficiency with which his enfant terrible collected the full card set. Don’t know what I mean? See for yourself:
I know, right? He should probably seek counseling or something, damn.
Believe it or not though, THIS WAS STILL NOT OVER.
Liverpool threw on Andy “£35 million” Carroll to try and grab a last minute winner. You can guess how that went.
Still though, the Reds revved up the pressure even more and the game CONTINUED to get EVEN MORE FUN.
In the 87th minute Hart made another super save, I can’t remember from whose shot.
In the 88th, fresh-legged Dzeko managed to blaze past Lucas and square it to Silva, who was one on one with Reina. A meeting of Spanish giants that would be automatic starters in literally any other national team in the world, Reina ran out and managed to delay the moment Silva inevitably maneuvered past him long enough for Liverpool to get THREE outfield players onto the goal line for an easy block of a now hopeless shot. I laughed, I cried, I peed a little.
IT KEPT GOING CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?
In the 92nd minute, the last play of extra time, Carroll somehow managed to get a FREE HEADER in the box, sending it rocketing to the opposite corner only to see Hart make the best save of the game and just barely keep it out with a graze of the fingertips. Stunning, world class, all that good shit. Standing ovation.
With that, the final whistle blew and the game ended 1-1. Every City player gave Joe Hart a hug. Andy Carroll looked like he was about to cry. Luis Suarez looked like the Gopher from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Real talk, Liverpool were genuinely great in this game. If they played like this every week but were clinical in the final third this really would be their year. Unfortunately, even this week they weren’t clinical in the final third and now their midfield anchor Lucas Leiva is out for the season so their prospects are very grim indeed. Sorry scousers, c’est la vie and all that.
Best to drown your sorrows in the bottle, and sing while you do.