In typical City fashion, Sunday represented a missed opportunity. But unlike City of yesteryear, the opposition did not leave Eastlands or Maine Road feeling as if they had gotten the best of the critical tie. The battle for fourth is very much alive after Liverpool failed to take three points in match most with a historical outlook would have considered a lock for the Reds. As this season has progressed both City and Liverpool have resorted to more negative football in big games, particularly away from home. For the Blues it was a coaching change that did this, but for the Reds, Rafa Benitez has seemingly changed his tactics to ensure survival.
The bottom line is that City continue to be right in the race for fourth with a tough set of fixtures coming in the next few weeks.
City’s backline looked surprisingly comfortable and confident without captain Kolo Toure and Micah Richards, both either benched or injured depending on what source you believe. Joleon Lescott had among his better games since joining City from Everton, and Pablo Zabaleta continued his strong recent play under Roberto Mancini.
Going forward, Emmanuel Adebayor, left alone on an island worked hard but was largely frustrated and ineffective as City’s midfield was run over by a stronger unit from Liverpool. Garreth Barry and Stephen Ireland were particularly poor, while Adam Johnson’s initial flashes of brilliance gave way to poor distribution, chronic diving and bad corner/set piece taking.
This match was a forgettable affair, but a result ensures City stays in the race for a Champions League place.
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