Where Liverpool can improve to end winless run against Man City

THE NUMBERS GAME: Liverpool were outplayed by Man City in their Premier League classic as Pep Guardiola’s side DOMINATED the midfield battle… Jurgen Klopp’s side MUST take advantage of Kevin De Bruyne’s absence if they want to keep quadruple hopes alive

  • Manchester City and Liverpool produced a Premier League classic on Sunday
  • The two sides play again in the FA Cup semi-final where there must be a winner   
  • Liverpool’s midfielders struggled to deal with their opposing rivals in the league
  • Man City meanwhile created more chances in both league games and not won

Just as Manchester City and Liverpool recover from their breathless classic at the Etihad last Sunday, the two sides are again set to slog it out the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Nothing separates the side after their two outings this season, with a 2-2 draw at Anfield being duplicated last weekend.

This Saturday there’s got to be a winner, even if it has to go all the way down to a penalty shoot-out.

Manchester City and Liverpool played out a Premier League classic on Sunday

Liverpool twice came from behind to keep within touching distance of the league leaders

Though Sunday’s game ended in a draw, Liverpool were perhaps fortunate to walk away with a point as the hosts squandered a number of glorious chances.

City’s midfield comfortably had the better of their opposing numbers, but with the depth of Liverpool’s forward line, Jurgen Klopp’s side always stood a chance of salvaging something from the game. 

The stakes continue to rise for both sides with Manchester City chasing the treble, while Liverpool are chasing an unprecedented quadruple.   

Sportsmail analyses last week’s classic and what the sides could learn ahead of a match which could cost City the treble, or Liverpool the quadruple.

Man City boss Pep Guardiola and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp have a lot to learn from the clash going into the FA Cup semi-final in what promises to be another classic match at Wembley

When many people give you there combined elevens for Liverpool and Manchester City you’ll find a common trend.

Liverpool’s forwards at the present time are favoured over their rivals, while there there are arguments to be held about who makes it in defence and in goal.

However, Manchester City have dominated the midfield battle against Liverpool in recent games, as shown by the 2-2 draw at the Etihad where Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Rodri ran the show.

Pep Guardiola’s side were more effective in their passing, and despite Jurgen Klopp’s reputation for pressing and a high-intensity game, Manchester City won the ball back in midfield more than their rivals.

City’s midfield trio combined for more passes than the opposing three of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Thiago – plus Naby Keita who replaced the Liverpool captain in the second half.

While De Bruyne took the headlines, when you look at the stats, Silva in particular was in fine form with 73 accurate passes – 24 more than Liverpool’s best in Thiago, showing City’s control of the game. 

The 27-year-old Portuguese playmaker also won more duels than any midfielder on the pitch (15) and won the most tackles with five, despite City dominating possession for large periods of the game.

Manchester City’s midfield dominated possession during the league clash with Liverpool

Jordan Henderson was peripheral throughout while Fabinho struggled by his high standards

Liverpool are known for their high intensity and pressing game but it was City’s midfield who made more recoveries with Rodri in particular impressive with 12 throughout the contest.

Although City scored two goals, City’s midfield were sloppy on the ball with the trio losing the ball on 41 occasions to Liverpool’s 28.


While Guadiola’s side were expected to have more of the possession, Liverpool’s midfield trio still had plenty of the game but struggled to influence the game in opposing areas. 

In fact, while both De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva created two chances each throughout the game, Liverpool’s trio provided none between them.

Brazilian midfielder Fabinho who is normally so reliable for the Reds, had one of his worse days against a top side, with a pass accuracy of just 76% and only winning 45% of his duels – though this was more than Rodri with 40%.

Rodri made more recoveries than any midfielder on the pitch in the Premier League clash

It was also Fabinho’s needless foul that led to Kevin De Bruyne’s opener while Jordan Henderson was a peripheral figure in the midfield battle.

So how do they improve for the FA Cup? Well one potential factor which could decide the match is the fitness of De Bruyne.

The Belgian superstar has found form at the perfect time and produced a superlative performance at the Etihad.

However, he came off with an injury against Atletico Madrid and is set to miss the Wembley showdown on Saturday.

On the other side, there have been questions from Liverpool fans as to whether they picked their best midfield three.

While Fabinho underperformed, some Liverpool fans have suggested that captain Henderson is out-of-form and should be dropped.  

Though his performance against City was underwhelming and he has struggled during certain games in recent months, he has still created more chances per game this season compared to his team-mates.

There had been calls for Naby Keita to start ahead of Henderson after producing one of his best games for the club in the 3-1 first-leg win over Benfica. 

However, despite facing Man City four times, Keita has never started a match against the Citizens – almost as if he is not trusted by Klopp to perform in the Reds’ hardest domestic fixture.

Despite this some of his key stats do stack up well against the veteran Liverpool midfielder. 

He is level with Fabinho for successful tackles per game, the highest interceptions per game as well as recoveries.

His duel success rate  (45.6%) is also comparable to that of the Liverpool captain (45.9%).

Given how Liverpool’s midfield played last week, the Guinean international might be worth a shout of a start in the crunch FA Cup clash.  

The midfield area is not the only area that Liverpool could improve this weekend.

Stats in terms of passes, duels and ball recoveries also favour Manchester City’s defenders over Liverpool’s back four last weekend.

Despite providing an assist, Trent Alexander-Arnold performed just 25 accurate passes which compares to 42 of Man City’s right-back Kyle Walker.

Alexander-Arnold (10) and Andrew Robertson (16) also provided fewer balls in the opposition’s half than Walker or Joao Cancelo (both 18). 

In an attacking sense, while Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus both won over 60% of their duels compared to Liverpool’s trio which saw Sadio Mane perform the best in that sense with 41%. 

Man City are in still with a chance of the treble while Liverpool could win the quadruple

If they don’t improve their efficiency in these areas they could be punished by City at the weekend if they are more ruthless.

City had more shots than Liverpool in both league games but failed to take enough of their chances, which allowed Liverpool to escape with a point on both occasions. 

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Luis Diaz have scored 79 goals between them in all competitions this season.

This compares to Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus and Jack Grealish who have netted 58 between them. 

 If City are unable to take their chances at Wembley they could be punished by Liverpool’s excellent forwards.

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