GK: Claudio Bravo (6/10) – An unconvincing punch mid way through the first half, when a catch seemed a safer bet, typified Bravo’s fragility as Manchester City’s final line of defence.
RB: Pablo Zabaleta (5/10) – The Argentina international will be disappointed that he failed to prevent, or even distract, Adam Lallana’s assist for Georginio Wijnaldum’s headed opener and remained below par from that moment onwards. Replaced by Jesus Navas as City chased the game.
CB: John Stones (6/10) – Uncharacteristically poor distribution from Stones, who was almost purposefully given time and space by Liverpool’s tactics. Indeed Jurgen Klopp’s front line seemed more than happy to allow Stones and partner Nicolas Otamendi to have the ball – rather than the more talented City midfield.
CB: Nicolas Otamendi (6/10) – Alongside Stones, Otamendi looked low on confidence and regularly struggled to contain the movement of Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane. City’s much improved second half display would have been a relief to Otamendi’s defensive duties.
LB: Aleksandar Kolarov (6/10) – Cheaply conceded possession in the lead up to Liverpool’s eighth minute opener, and Kolarov’s defending showed little sign of improving thereafter – typified by a number of flustered, clumsy challenges on Mane.
CM: Fernandinho (7/10) – The Brazilian was given the unenviable task of anchoring Manchester City’s midfield and protecting an unconvincing defence. Despite Fernandinho’s admirable work rate and combativeness, the lack of support from the ever forward-thinking quartet of Yaya Toure, David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne provided Fernandinho with a tough 90-minute experience.
CM: Yaya Toure (6/10) – The energy of Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and Wijnaldum surrounded and suffocated Toure’s impact on the midfield battle, as on too many occasions the 33-year-old was seen chasing the game. Toure had flashes of influence in the second period, but nothing significant as City attempted to get back into the game.
AM: Raheem Sterling (8/10) – The pace and directness of Sterling’s runs threatened to get the better of Liverpool’s left back James Milner. However, former Manchester City man Milner subdued Sterling on many occasions, limiting the effectiveness of City’s number 7 in the process. To Sterling’s credit, despite the shackles of Milner and the echoes of the Anfield crowd throughout, the 22-year-old’s resilience meant he was always a valid outlet for City’s second half attacks.
AM: David Silva (8/10) – The diminutive Silva glided through the match attempting to get on the ball. However, the usually instrumental midfielder was somewhat curtailed by a finely tuned Liverpool defensive pattern. Silva came close to scoring with a fine left-footed strike mid way through the second half and was City’s most promising attacking threat thereafter.
AM: Kevin De Bruyne (6/10) – Although initially deployed on the left hand side, De Bruyne became frustrated with a lack of service and proceeded to roam around the final third in order to effect the game. The Belgium international looked far more threatening as a result, but left the caveat of exposing Kolarov to the attacks of Mane and Nathaniel Clyne of Liverpool’s right flank.
FW: Sergio Aguero (5/10) – The talismanic Aguero returned to the City line-up after serving his four game ban, but remained isolated in attacking positions. Aguero’s first half showing was close to anonymous and the Argentina international only managed his first attempt at Liverpool’s goal shortly before the hour mark. Aguero cut a frustrated figure on a night that just did not belong to the City striker.
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