LIVERPOOL’S counter-attacking prowess leaves rivals fearing they could be ripped to pieces.
And it created a problem for Manchester City which swung the game in Liverpool’s favour yesterday.
I wrote in this column on Saturday that I felt Fernandinho was best deployed by boss Pep Guardiola as a defensive midfielder — not at centre-back.
Ultimately, the gap between Rodri, who anchored City’s midfield, and the City centre-back pairing became a real issue.
City dominated possession with 55 per cent and looked potent in attack, so they understandably committed men forward.
That is fine and it is why they created opportunities.
But because of the way City’s stars surged forward, the gap between their centre-backs — Fernandinho and John Stones – and midfielder Rodri was too big.
So when Liverpool turned over possession and broke at an unbelievable pace, they cleverly targeted that no man’s land between the lines through Roberto Firmino. In City’s vital 2-1 win over Liverpool at the Etihad in January of last season, Fernandinho played closer to his centre-backs than Rodri did playing in that role at Anfield.
Vincent Kompany played alongside Stones that day and Fernandinho put in a superb, tireless display to help protect them.
But Kompany has moved on to Anderlecht and Guardiola’s first-choice centre-back Aymeric Laporte has been injured since September, leaving Fernandinho required to stand in at the back.
Because Rodri was further forward yesterday, Fernandinho and Stones did not want to close down Firmino because it would leave space in behind for the lightning fast Mo Salah and Sadio Mane to run into.
City created enough chances but the biggest thing was always going to be the first goal, especially when you have the Premier League’s best two teams facing off.
You know City will dominate possession and that they are unbelievable with it, one of the best teams around.
But you could argue Liverpool are the best counter-attacking team in Europe.
And the Reds’ opening goal was a prime example of City dominating the ball — and then Liverpool going down to the other end and scoring.
City are so good to watch with the way they play out under pressure. But it is very difficult when you know you can dominate — and in no time the ball could still be in the back of your net.
What I like about Liverpool more than anything is that they can play counter-attacking and also possession-based football.
Most read in football
The way they press is incredible. The front three are a perfect fit in the way the Firmino, Mane and Salah come together.
When City got through that press they caused problems. But whenever Liverpool stretched City’s midfield, that gap to the defensive line became an issue.
I still believe City would have fared better with Fernandinho playing in a defensive midfield role — because it would have offered more protection to their back four from Liverpool’s lethal strike force.
This post written by Jamie Gordon originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.