Manchester City vs. Liverpool - Rodgers' Tactical Skills
Posted on Feb 4th, 2013 by Araz Heydariyehzadeh
The contest at the Etihad produced a thrilling encounter with 4 stunning goals of different varieties, here we look at at tactical analysis of the game and why David Silva meant Mancini lost out to to the tactical smarts of Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers' Silva Lining
In a throw back to the football of yesteryear both teams started the game with a good old fashioned 4-4-2 with two up top. But the players were far from evenly pitted.
Whilst on Liverpool's left Henderson and Enrique were matched up fairly evenly against Milner and and Zabaleta, the right was a completely different story, and it was where Liverpool could, deserved to, and should have won the match.
Liverpool's constant attacks down their right hand side were met by Manchester City's left, a combination of Silva and Clichy to stop the advances of Downing and Johnson. With Silva offering so little defensively the Liverpool right sided players not only found themselves repeatedly outnumbering and isolating Clichy but the likes of Gerrard and Sturridge too exploited the space on the right to keep City constantly on the back foot.
Mancini appears to have seriously misjudged the attacking prowess of Glen Johnson and the defensive abilities of Downing which not only nullified any attack Silva might make down that side but often allowed Liverpool to completely dominate that side of the pitch and pull City's shape to pieces.
After 55 minutes Mancini must have grown tired of the constant barrage of attacks running through that side and switched to 3-5-2 bringing Kolorov on to plug the gap and pulling the poor Silva in the the middle. This stemmed some of the flow, but instead Liverpool changed their impetuous to the oppositie side more regularly where Henderson and Enrquie where now finding more space against a disorganised left flank where was unclear whether Barry, Garcia or Silva was supposed to offer wide protection to the 3 tucked in defenders behind them. This eventually caused City to pull Silva off altogether and replace him with Maicon who can play out wide and provide cover too.
Over all that tactical battle was won easily by Rodgers as he asked his men to focus their attack on whatever part of the pitch Silva was playing in, repeatedly exposing his defensive weaknesses, and it showed in the stats too. Liverpool became only the 3rd team this season to have more possession than City at The Etihad, and they also had more than twice as many attempts on goal and twice as many on target.
It's no surprise then that the 4 stunning goals scored in the match were at least in part determined by these tactics. City's first involved an excellent cross from Milner and clever movement from Dzeko to create the space but also a larger slice of luck.
The goal came during a stretch of play in which Milner and Silva were in the process of switching wings. Through a lack of organisation they momentarily found themselves both playing on the same left hand side with the right completely exposed. Fortunately for City Silva's ball through to Milner allowed for an excellent cross and some classic center forward play to put City 1 up.
The other three goals were all fabulous strikes and each one centered a little around the tactical play that was going on. In particular it was lovely to see that Steven Gerrard, written off by many in an injury hit last season producing the same magic he did in the 1996 FA Cup final against West Ham, showing even at 32 years old he is still every bit as good a player as he was back then. His numbers so far this season show 7 goals and 9 assists and he is one of only 15 outfield players in the league this season to have started every league game for their club.
Sadly for Liverpool their excellent play and tactics were not rewarded with the 3 points they so richly deserved. In a scary case of history repeating it's self, once again with little more than 10 minutes on the clock Liverpool found themselves 2-1 up against Manchester City as they did at Anfield earlier in the season, and once again a lapse in concentration and a mindless moment resulted in an incident involving Skertle resulted in City being gifted an equaliser they had not deserved.
Although this time Reina was largely to blame it does leave Liverpool still without a win against any team on the top half of the table. A horrible statistic that they should and would so many times have over come had their concentration lasted the full 90 minutes.
Show the world you know the score!