City lost a match we should have at least drawn. It’s gut-wrenching, hugely disappointing and very frustrating to see a very good City side beaten by an inferior team at such a crucial point of the season. We are now relying on results elsewhere to go our way as Liverpool have it in their hands to win the League, sitting top, seven points ahead of us, with Chelsea 3 ahead of us, both having played two games more.
Vincent Kompany had sustained a bang on his knee in a heavy fall after going up for header in training on the Saturday and City social media was swamped with fretting Blues, speculating on the great man’s fitness, but to our relief he made the starting line up which had only one change from the defeat of Southampton, with Clichy’s greater pace and defensive capabilities being preferred to the attacking thrust of Kolarov.
We were totally outrun for the first half hour as we could not cope with Liverpool’s ferocious pace. We just couldn’t live with the darting runs and intricacy of Sterling, Sturridge and Suarez early on and we were behind after 6 minutes. Sterling took Suarez’s incisive pass and turned Kompany inside out and shot into an unguarded net. Hart and Kompany were so bamboozled that they were stood in a straight line. It could not have been a worse start for us.
We didn’t play with enough conviction or belief and were second to the ball too often. Under pressure, we gave the ball away. One would hope the City players weren’t affected by the hostility of deafening howls and boos that greeted our every touch.
We may well have seen the last of Yaya Toure this season after he sustained groin injury as he tried to shoot from distance. He tried to carry on but to no avail. Anfield was fast becoming a pit of despair for us. The Liverpool fans shamefully cheered when Yaya went down injured a few minutes later. To be fair some clapped him off the pitch as he hobbled off, but too many had already exposed themselves for what they are. The myth Liverpool about sportsmanship is, as most football fans have known for years, just that: a myth.
City were really struggling to get our game going and looking vulnerable to Liverpool’s pace and ingenuity. They were also a danger at set pieces. We had not reorganised properly after Yaya’s injury and it showed when Gerrard was given the freedom of the penalty box to head a corner goalwards. Thankfully Joe Hart made a superb reflex save. Sadly it was only a temporary stay of execution. Skrtel and Kompany vied for space from the next corner, up went Skrtel forearm to push himself free and he glanced in an unstoppable near post header for 2-0. Replays later revealed it was a foul by Skrtel, but no City player demonstrably complained. Had there been a man on each post we may have stopped that goal.
It took a full half hour to get into the game but we dominated the last fifteen minutes of the first period and most of the second half.
We should have had a penalty when Sacko brought down Dzeko, but referees rarely have the guts to give the opposition penalties at Anfield. Mark Clattenburg was well positioned and has no excuse for not giving the spot kick.
Silva glanced a header from a Navas cross and Sakho got the merest touch to ensure it went wide. Then, from a Silva corner, Sterling headed a Kompany header off the line and Liverpool eventually cleared the danger after a scramble.
It was our bad luck that Fernandinho slipped as he hit Navas’s cross goalwards as Mignolet would have had no chance. As it was, the Belgian shot stopper was grateful to make the save.