Liverpool vs. Manchester City: 6 Things We Learned
Martin Skrtel was the villain of the show after being the hero for so long. His late error gave Premier League champions Manchester City a draw they scarcely deserved against Liverpool at Anfield today.
The match, a superb end to end clash, saw City come from behind twice after first Martin Skrtel and then Luis Suarez had given them the lead. However, the Reds were pegged back each time as the champions hunted down the goal through strikes from Yaya Toure and then Carlos Tevez - who latched onto Skrtel's late schoolboy mistake.
For Liverpool fans the signs were encouraging; for Manchester City fans the performance was below what they have come to expect.
Read on for for the highs and lows of Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City and leave your comments in the box below.
Raheem Sterling Is the Future
Last week, Brendan Rodgers chose to go with Stewart Downing on the right side of his new look midfield.
The end result was the England winger putting in one of the worst performances many have ever seen in a red shirt.
So it was no surprise to see the Reds new manager give young Raheem Sterling a run this week.
The end result?
A performance of great maturity and composure which justified the cries for the 17-year-old's inclusion.
Sterling was brave on and off the ball. He ran at the opposition when given the chance, chose his passes wisely and worked incredibly hard for his team, and his manager.
If the youngster can keep this level of performance up across the rest of the season then Liverpool will have unearthed their first homegrown gem since Steven Gerrard.
3-5-2 Does Not Suit Manchester City
Manchester City are the champions. They should not have to change their formation and set-up to counteract the opposition; it is their opponents who should be doing that instead.
Try telling that to Roberto Mancini.
For the trip to Anfield today, Mancini surprisingly chose a 3-5-2 formation for his team and—even more surprisingly—dropped David Silva, Gael Clichy and Jack Rodwell.
In came James Milner, Nigel De Jong and Aleksandr Kolorov as Mancini looked to outwit Brendan Rodgers and his traditional 4-2-3-1.
However, despite a decent first ten minutes where the two teams felt each other out, the vast majority of the game was spent on the back foot for the Citizens as a Liverpool team, obviously hurt after last weeks debacle, inflicted their game upon the champions.
3-5-2 as a system is rarely chosen in the modern game due to the lack of width it offers and the sheer amount of space the defenders and wing-backs have to cover.
When Liverpool got to grips with City's formation they merely clipped the ball into the wide open spaces behind Kolorov and Zabaleta for the likes of Sterling and Suarez to run into.
If it was an experiment, it was not a successful one.
Mario Balotelli Is a Liability
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Mario Balotelli, despite being the most important Italian footballer of all-time, is an absolute liability for Roberto Mancini and Manchester City.
Like Manchester United, City's main striker will be out injured for at least four weeks. However, unlike the Red Devils, City do not have a ready made replacement for the undoubted star.
When you consider that Robin van Persie has been with United less than a month and that Balotelli and Dzeko have been with City for over a season, you realise what a predicament Mancini is in.
In simple terms, Balotelli cannot be trusted.
You just never know what you are going to get from the player.
Last season, he either scored or got booked.
It would seem that, this season, he is trying to turn a new leaf as he was completely anonymous for the 62 minutes he spent on the pitch.
He was a passenger from the very first minute, and why Mancini persists with the player, who is the personification of a roulette wheel, we will never know.
Joe Allen Could Be the Man to Replace Xabi Alonso
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The best way to describe Liverpool's new signing, Joe Allen, would be to say that he is a continuity player.
He keeps the ball moving in such a simple manner that his style is easily underestimated and overlooked, but if you study him close enough you will see that he is a clever, clever player.
The best midfield that Liverpool fans have seen in recent times contained Javier Mascherano, now at Barcelona, Xabi Alonso, now at Real Madrid and Steven Gerrard—still a talisman at Liverpool.
Joe Allen, Brendan Rodgers' first signing, is the closest we have seen to a player capable of replacing Alonso since he left the club in 2009.
While the Welshman does not have the same level of passing as the ex-Liverpool man, he is potentially of the same level of intelligence, with the early signs of his Liverpool career being nothing less than encouraging.
Skrtel Making the Mistake for the Goal Is Actually Good
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Martin Skrtel went from hero, after scoring the opening goal, to villain with just ten minutes to go, when he gave the ball away needlessly to Carlos Tevez who went on to score.
While the mistake was undoubtedly a schoolboy error that he or any other Liverpool player will be reluctant to repeat, it can actually be read as being a good thing for a couple of reasons.
The first reason is that with ten minutes to go, Martin Skrtel was brave enough to take the ball into his possession in the left back position and instead of clearing it into Row Z, he tried to retain possession.
The second reason is that while Skrtel's back-pass was obviously wayward—it went to Tevez, who scored—the very fact that he was willing to pass the ball to a teammate in that position and that the likes of Enrique and Coates were willing to get on the ball in such positions can only be good for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers going forward.
This shows that the manager's possession philosophy is getting through.
If he can marry some quality signings to this new belief, the glory days will not be far away for Liverpool.
Carlos Tevez Is on Line to Be Player of the Year
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In scoring Manchester City's equalizer, Carlos Tevez fired home his 100th Premiership goal.
More importantly, it was his third goal in three games this season.
Think back to last year and his strike. The striker spent most of the time in Argentina with his career rotting by the second.
He returned to the City fold in March after six months in banishment, and from then on, not one person could question his commitment as City won the title.
During the title run-in, he was as instrumental as any other player. Now he has had a full pre-season and is fully committed to the cause for the 2012-13 season.
Tevez is easily Manchester City's best player so far this term, and if he can keep this form up it will have been an incredible 12 months for the little Argentinian—and most probably an incredible season.