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How Manchester City Lost the Tactical Battle Against Liverpool

anfield How Manchester City Lost the Tactical Battle Against Liverpool

The buildup to Sunday’s mouthwatering title-impacting clash was largely about the players set with the backdrop of the 25th Anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster as well as talk about Liverpool’s desire to win a first league title in almost a quarter century. But the critical difference came in the tactical setups of the two managers.

Title-impacting match-ups are often decided by managerial moves and tactics, but these usually favor the more experienced leader. Brendan Rodgers got his Liverpool team sheet and tactics correct while Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini got it all wrong.

Rodgers figured out a way to feature Phillipe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling in the team, and set up a side where both could find pockets of space. The midfield diamond Liverpool played wreaked absolute havoc on the Blues for the first 30 minutes.

A forced change brought on Javi Garcia on for Manchester City when Yaya Toure was hurt in minute 19. The Blues couldn’t cope with the movement of Liverpool’s attacking players until Garcia found his feet about ten minutes after coming on. At that point, Liverpool was already two goals ahead.

Pellegrini, having burned a substitute due to the Toure injury, strangely did not bring James Milner on at halftime for the ineffective Jesus Navas. The Spanish international has had repeated poor matches in big games away from Eastlands this season, and Pellegrini’s decision to start him was shortsighted.

Before the match the discussion among City supporters assumed either Garcia would start and that would result in Toure pushing forward, or Milner would start out wide directly in Navas’ position. Pellegrini, by minute 50, realized he had to make the change, swapping Navas for Milner. And instantly, the match changed.

The Blues almost chased the match down, scoring twice quickly after Milner’s entry to the match, and created several more chances before skipper Vincent Kompany’s costly and uncharacteristic error gifted Liverpool the three points. But the match was in fact decided pregame with Pellegrini’s tactical and selection errors. While some Manchester City supporters will rue the missed second half chances, the two Kompany errors that led directly to Liverpool goals plus the three controversial non-penalty calls were key, however the Blues lost the match due to Pellegrini’s tactical naivety.

Editor’s note: Find out how to get Kartik Krishnaiyer’s new book entitled ‘Blue With Envy: My American Journey With Manchester City’.

This entry was posted in Leagues: EPL, Liverpool, Manchester City. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

2 Responses to How Manchester City Lost the Tactical Battle Against Liverpool

  1. Flyvanescence says:

    Taking off Dzeko killed out momentum. That and starting Navas were the two points Pellegrini bottled. Unfortunately this has happened several times this season.

  2. Kartik says:

    I agree. Upon a second viewing of the match, I realize the withdrawal of Dzeko is what stifled our momentum. His ability to hold up play and link up with the midfield was lost on an experiment with an unfit Aguero. Liverpool were let back into the match by that one change.

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