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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Liverpool and Manchester City Take A Point Each – Lucas Frustrates Silva

Written by on November 27, 2011 | 18 Comments »
Posted in General, Liverpool, Manchester City

Sunday’s match was enthralling. It was played at a terrific pace – perhaps it was even a bit to quick – with Liverpool in particular pressing City at every opportunity and in packs.

Liverpool had more attempts on goal (17/7) but the shots that got through were more balanced.

Manchester City take few risks pushing forward looking for offside – Liverpool tend to be caught off side a lot. In this match both teams were caught offside only twice – City 27 times going into the game and Liverpool 43.

Gus noted in a post on Sunday morning that the game had the makings of a titanic midfield battle. I would say that was exactly how it turned out.

Lucas was my man of the match and how he plugged the holes that David Silva weaves threads of destruction from was magnificent. His overall passing was superb (69 out of 75) but in the final third he only failed with one from 19.

But as mentioned above it was the defensive side of his game that offered Liverpool a platform from which they could build.

His tackling was flawless and he also had 6 interceptions.

Week after week we have watched as David Silva destroyed teams with his passing and movement in the attacking third of the field. But although he still racked up decent passing numbers in the final third he was forced into playing in more peripheral areas.

There is also a contrast in where Silva picked up passes on Sunday against Liverpool and a few weeks ago against Manchester United.

It might be a stretch comparing games but Silva’s positioning when receiving passes differed over the two games.

He operated over a wider area against Liverpool and that might suggest frustration caused by Lucas.

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18 responses to “Liverpool and Manchester City Take A Point Each – Lucas Frustrates Silva”

  1. J Rob says:

    Great analysis Bobby. Wonder if a lot of coaches will look at this game and see a method to handle Silva and Man City. Lucas was exceptional. Thought Daniel Agger at centre-half barely put a foot wrong either coming quite far forward at times to handle Aguero.

    At this stage of the season Liverpool are improving but there’s an unfortunate familiarity from previous seasons (especially 2008/2009) about their performances. Good against the stronger sides (Spurs excepted) but unable to put smaller teams away. They’ll need to be more clinical to get into the Champion’s League.

    According to ESPN stats you have to go as far back as January of this year to a game in the EPL where Hart made so many saves (six against Villa).

    Any thoughts on your fellow Dundonian Charlie Adam? Any stats to verify that both his passing accuracy and yards covered have improved this season especially over last few weeks. I thought his distribution really helped Liverpool to press effectively in the 2nd half.

  2. Rob says:

    MOTM came down to Lucas and Agger. Both were excellent in the tackle and really saved the team, time and again.

    Not sure it was an epic midfield battle. It was very sloppy as both teams were careless in possession at times(Liverpool twice put City through on goal and Reina could’ve been sent off on the first time).

    And the one time Liverpool did score, it came from a pretty awful play by Lescott.

    As for CA, there definitely has been improvement. But in the first 10 minutes how often did he pass the ball straight to City? What was he thinking when he put Milner through? I now know why Blackpool conceded as much as they did. They didn’t have a Lucas or a back-line as solid as Liverpool’s to save the day.

    When you take it all in and analyze the game, it still comes back to the same thing for Liverpool. Not enough. Through seven games at Anfield thats 2 wins and five draws. Champions League? Ha! Not on current form.

  3. J Rob – I will have a look at Adam’s stats and see what can dig up.

  4. Gus Keri says:

    I am happy with the progress Liverpool made since the debacle of the last season.

    Liverpool are trying to play the “beautiful game” but I have to criticize the referee for allowing so much physical play against them, especially in the first half. Some of them are clear fouls like the ones Adam and Suarez suffered.

    My other criticism is for Dalglish. When watching the opposing defense treating Suarez very harshly and the referee doesn’t do any thing about it, you should introduce Carroll earlier.

    Carroll with his physical game can help Suarez in releaving some of the pressure and he himself will be able to handle those defenders better from the physical point of view.

    This happened before on few occasions.

    Dalglish should introduce Carroll in the 60th minutes in those game to give Liverpool a chance at overcoming such a physical defense.

    I disagree with the criticism of Adam. He like Suarez was treated harshly.
    I agree with J Rob. It has the look of 2008/2009 season. Playing to the level of the opposition.

    But Rob: “Champions League? Ha! Not on current form.”
    Are you watching the games? Liverpool outperformed the two Manchester teams and Chelsea, the three favorites to win it at the begining of the season.
    Liverpool’s form has never been better.

  5. Rob says:

    Gus-Liverpool’s form has never been better? Through seven home games, as I pointed out above, we have two wins and five draws.

    Do I watch the games? Yes. Do you? Sure we were better against a struggling Chelsea side but look at the goals scored against both Manchester sides…and look at the results.

    So we play better than them but can’t win and our form has never been better? Sorry buddy but you’re off. And if it wasn’t for some heroic defending prior to Liverpool being in the ascendency at the end of the game, Liverpool could’ve easily lost. Don’t forget Reina got away with a handball early in the game which would’ve been a red card.

    As far as the CA criticism, I dare you not to read Liverpool websites and just watch a Liverpool game. You’ll start seeing where the man is lacking.

    In any case, Liverpool’s form needs improvement if we are to grab a CL spot.

  6. Gus Keri says:

    Rob:

    Of course, Liverpool players make mistakes. Every team in the world makes mistakes. A lot of goals were scored after somebody made a mistake. On many occasions the winning team is the lucky one who didn’t get punished for them.

    I am talking about the whole picture and not specific player performance.

    Liverpool, this season, are playing some of their best soccer. They are dominating excellent teams that were thought of as much better sides than LFC.

    There is only one thing that is lacking and it is scoring. I believe that it will come with time.

    As per “Liverpool’s form has never been better”, this is salty journalism. Don’t take it literally.

    Althought, I must say, I am enjoying Liverpool play like I did in the second half of that 2008-2009 season but only if Suarez comes out of his slump with LFC and starts scoring like everyone knows he can.

  7. J Rob says:

    Rob:

    http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11096_2705370,00.html

    Liverpool have the joint 2nd worst lowest shooting accuracy average in the EPL at 36%. The teams above us have anywhere between 45 and 52%. Only one team have taken more shots than us – Man City.

    The stats don’t lie – that is why we are not in the top three and without improvement will struggle to qualify for Europe.

    That said yesterday we were denied by three exceptional saves from Joe Hart. The one that denied Charlie Adam a certain goal just after we had equalised. And the double-save from Carroll and Suarez near the end.

    4 keepers have been their respective opposing teams’ man-of-the-match at Anfield this season. De Gea for Man Utd, Vorm for Swansea, Ruddy for Norwich and now Joe Hart for Man City. Remember the exceptional saves all made at the end of the Liverpool game. Combined they made 25 saves at Anfield.

    These stats also help to tell the tale of why Liverpool have won less games at Anfield thus far than anytime since 1988/1989 (2 out of 7).

    Overall I see grounds for genuine optimism. Our squad is better than at anytime since 2008/2009, we have regained our tactical smarts and flexibility which was a hallmark of Dalglish and Clarke’s approach last season and the new players are starting to play towards their potential.

    I will add one other pleasing aspect. We are finishing games strongly. Apart from the Sunderland and Spurs games I can’t think of a game when we haven’t looked the better team in the last 10/15 minutes. A great example was when Man Utd equalised at 80 minutes at Anfield. Neutrals would have bet that Man Utd would lay siege to the Liverpool goal. The opposite occurred.

  8. shmish says:

    I watched the Liverpool Man City game, and the thing that jumped out to me, other than the great game, was Wenger’s influence on the EPL. I suppose you could also say there is a Spanish/Barca influence, but really I have to give the nod to Wenger as the one that pushed this type of soccer in the EPL.

  9. Rob says:

    Gus-Every team does make mistakes. But does every team put the other team through on goal TWICE on our keeper? That is poor play.

    I don’t take what you say literal. I wouldn’t even take it as you saying we are in good form. Again, just because we look pleasing on the eye doesn’t mean we are in good form. The results will decide that. So back the point of 2 wins out of 7 at Anfield.

    Jrob-Your stats would say your statement about us finishing stronger is wrong. Check the table of us in the first half vs the second half.

    Its amazing how opposing GK seem to find to have their best performance against us, doesn’t it? While Joe Hart’s save on Carroll was a good save, its one he should be making. In fact Szczęsny made one similar earlier in the year. Adams “certain goal”? That was actually quite a routine save because a) his angle was cut down to the one corner he shot at as Lescott(could have been Kompany) had the far post covered and b) the only way you’re going to beat a keeper in that situation is if you go high as going low allows Joe Hart just to stick his leg out.

    And finally all these chances that Liverpool are creating are half-chances. Take Downing as the prime example. So many Liverpool “fans” are criticizing him for his lack of finishing but take the last two chances he had. One was a ball that was coming out to the 18 yard line with a defender in his face that he tried shooting over(and he did into the stands) and the other was the volley from the left side of the goal from about 8 yards out that he smashed across the face of goal. I remember when Kewell finished a similar volley against Fulham from a Steve Finnan cross. I bring this up because everyone was talking about how difficult it was and that it was a once in a blue moon type volley. Downing misses that shot and he is called wasteful because supposedly that was a gilt-edged chance. Its such non-sense. Liverpool aren’t creating gilt-edged chances, hence their “poor shooting” and why keepers are “playing their best games against us”.

    BTW, we didn’t create anything against Swansea. Vorm was a non-factor. Ask Kenny.

  10. Gus Keri says:

    Another great game by LFC today, winning convincingly away to Chelsea 2-0, although Carroll missed a PK, too.

    I hope you had the chance to watch it, Rob. It might change your mind about the team’s new look. Don’t be so hard on them.

    The road to recovery is not easy and LFC on their way.

  11. Rob says:

    Gus-If your barometer of Liverpool’s good form includes the Carling Cup then I now can understand why you think Liverpool are in Champions League form.

    We did look convincing though not sure what we can take from this victory when both teams were playing without several first team players AND we just beat this team 9 days ago.

    I guess the only thing I took from this was that we will be without our best midfield player for a long time….and all for a victory in the Carling Cup.

    Not sure what the road to recovery is that you speak of but if you’re referring to the Champions League, I feel even more confident in saying we won’t achieve it without Lucas.

  12. Gus Keri says:

    Rob:

    The glass is always half empty for you, isn’t it?

    I don’t blame you for being so negative. Liverpool has been very inconsistent in the last few years, going from the runner up position to the relegation zone in a matter of a year and a half.

    I am a bit different. I believe there is a fresh breeze of optimism in Anfield.

    If you want to know where this optimism comes from, click on my name “Gus Keri” above and read.

  13. Rob says:

    Gus-Naw, I think its a rather realistic point of view. All this talk of Champions League is non-sense when you look at the fact that we aren’t winning games at home that we should.

    I read your article and if you’ve been following Liverpool this long then you should know that all these dropped points will come back to bite us in the ass at season’s end(in terms of our goal of qualifying for Europe’s elite competition).

    I’ll start believing in the optimism when we start purchasing players of real quality. Can the players we bought this past summer improve? Of course. But when taking a step back and looking at their performances, you can’t say they’ve been the quality that will take us to where we want to be.

    That’s where I get my view from. If you continue to look at what the potential is then you’ll continually be disappointed. If you take things for how they are, you start to get a much clearer picture in terms of where we are and how far out we are.

    Our only saving grace is that Chelsea is regressing and that Arsenal is about two injuries away from being in a run of inconsistent form. As a Liverpool supporter I’d rather not have to worry about seeing another team slip up and just focus on our team going out and doing its job.

    Well anyways man, hope your optimism turns out to be true. I’m just not holding my breath 🙂

  14. Mike says:

    I don’t get to watch too many games, but I do enjoy the ones I get to watch.
    Is Kuyt getting more playing time than he did at the start of the season? I find that he still seems to bring energy and a solid, more consistent work rate/scoring opportunities than some of the more recent acquisitions.
    Watching Downing, he does offer pace on the wing, but his finishing leaves a lot to be desired – more often I see him skying the ball than hitting the target. Bellamy re-acquisition seems to offer the same, but at least with a better final third attacking threat.
    Jose Enrique seems to be a great acquisition – I like his attacking forward/overlapping movement, and his crosses seem to be well played. Better on the left than Johnson is on the right?
    Nice to have Agger back.
    Suarez was a good buy – exciting to watch, good work rate, slippery. I think we could have found a cheaper target player than Andy Carroll – sorry, I’m not knowledgeable enough to name one, but I’m sure there would be someone that could have been bought for less than a record transfer fee.

    I’m optimistic for the side, but agree that their overall form does not give me confidence that they will get a top 4 spot. Have to see what the 2nd half of the season brings. They do not feel like a well-oiled machine yet – seem rough. I think they should make it to Europe next year, though.

  15. J Rob says:

    It is obvious that Kenny is trying to re-install a winning mindset for LFC. Every game is there to be taken seriously and won.

    6 away wins on the trot show LFC are getting there. When was the last time we won six straight away games?

    If LFC are going to rise again we need that mentality. I respect how SAF has done that with Man Utd.

    Notice, how we have finished every game as the stronger side this season (except Spurs). While we need to be more clinical thank goodness we are no longer the timid team we were under Hodgson and even under Rafa at times.

    As for the signings. We have made big bets on potential in Henderson and Carroll. Remember when Lucas was signed by Rafa in 2007? Lambasted for 2 seasons by most LFC fans and now look where he is. I think Carroll is a square-peg in a round hole at Anfield. Enrique, Adam and Coates all look good buys and Bellamy a brilliant one. I think Downing is struggling mentally playing for his first truly big-club but will settle.

    I don’t see us playing beautiful football quite yet but we are well-organised and have our best squad in some time. Add in a very well-run reserve and youth set-up with many promising youngsters and I am genuinely encouraged.

  16. Gus Keri says:

    ” If it wasn’t for the glimmer of hope, life is not worth living”

    When I made my prediction at the begining of the season, I placed Liveprool in 5th, out of the UCL.

    I was hopeful with all the new signings but I thought it was going to take at least one full season for the team to jell together and the players to get used to playing with each others.

    What I saw so far from the team and what happened to our competitions made me believe that 3rd or 4th spot is not beyond our reach.

    Those two spots are up for grab among LFC, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham. I am still not sold on Newcastle yet. I might change my opinion of them after X-mas.

  17. J Rob says:

    Gus

    Think it will be very tight. Arsenal improving, Spurs look very good and despite Chelsea’s current problems I have a feeling that they can turn things around. Everybody seems unconvinced of Newcastle. They don’t have strength in depth so remaining relatively injury free will be vital. But they are tough to breakdown and Pardew seems to have a Rafa-like attention to detail.

    In any case think neutrals could have a very exciting time in May if the title, Champion’s League places and relegation spots are as contested as they seem destined to be at this point.

  18. Rob says:

    Mike-Downing’s finishing has always left a lot to be desired. That, most likely, will never change.

    Jrob-Finishing timid under Roy and Rafa? What does that mean? Again, the stats show otherwise to your thoughts of Liverpool finishing stronger in the second half.

    Six wins on the trot away from home, three of those in the early rounds of the league? Come on man, you’re clutching at straws if you’re looking at that for your good form argument.

    Gus-While I think Downing and Jose have been good buys, how can anyone think that Adam or Henderson have been good?

    Adam was brought in to create goals which points to the problem with Liverpool scoring because he doesn’t create. He has three assists(Suarez goal v Sunderland, Skrtel goal v Bolton and Johnson’s wonder-goal vs Chelsea). That’s a piss poor return when you see what Suarez continually creates which again points to our biggest problem because when your man leading the line has to be your top creator then you’re going to struggle to score goals.

    And Henderson and Adam have been poor in passing overall. They continually give the ball away and are terrible in the tackle. As I’ve said many times before, they can improve but they’re lacking heavily at this point.

    When you put that with the new injury of Lucas together, Liverpool do not look to be in a good position.

    BTW I had Liverpool finishing fifth as well but sixth seems to be the best we can finish as Tottenham has exceeded my expectations. I figured they would come out lethargic(which they did though I thought it would continue for a longer time than it did).

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