Date:Sunday February 21 2010
Manchester City and Liverpool are no nearer to knowing which side will compete in the Champions League after the teams endured a dire 0-0 stalemate.
The contest was tipped as "race for fourth" and a must watch classic. However, after 90 minutes of football neither side will be confident of surpassing teams above them to finish in the coveted Champions League spots.
Both City and Liverpool have been indifferent all season, but had the opportunity today to put a less than satisfactory campaign behind them and move forward. A Home Clash for City meant we were slight favourites. After famous victories previously against Arsenal and Chelsea at home more of the same was expected.
The mentality has switched under Mancini with the defence looking stronger and the attacking breaks few and far between. This mentality is shared across the North West with Benitez and his criticised defensive minded tactics. Therefore, a tactical battle was expected, with no side looking to push the boundaries in fear of making a crucial mistake.
Unfortunately, this proved correct as the encounter between two top four hopefuls stayed in continuum with their recent lacklustre League games.
This wasn`t one Sky or Espn would regret not broadcasting. The match was woeful, dreary, laborious and was a battle between the managers rather than the players. The attacking flair, chances and fluent football didn`t exist. The defensive skill was sublime, but neither back four had any stern tests. City showed Liverpool far too much respect, something that needs swiftly altering if we are the team who makes the top four break-through.
As the contest progressed it was evident that both sides had a greater fear of losing than a greater determination to win. The teams would both counter attack slowly with a fear that it could be reversed putting them on the back foot and more importantly out of the top four battle.
The greatest players on the pitch included Zabaleta, De Jong, Kompany, Mascherano and Skrtl. This epitomised the occasion, defenders on top, and the attacks futile. Liverpool relied on the usual industrious nature of Kuyt and the whole-hearted display of Gerrard. This proved unsuccessful, Gerrard was far from the colossal he has portrayed himself over recent years being overshadowed by the combative De Jong. Mascherano almost had viewers believing Ireland was amongst the substitute bench, and Adebayor went down looking accusingly at the referee from even a defensive stare.
This wasn't an encounter between two top four contenders firing on all cylinders, it was a game between two teams frightened of taking a stranglehold, petrified of making costly mistakes, putting themselves in the limelight when failing to match expectations.
As shown in the title race, whoever takes the lead, whoever looks in the ascendency to take control fails to maintain control and surrenders it over again.
The fixture was guilty of creating not one clear cut chance. Skrtl came closest when he glanced his header beside the post, but no one was on the back foot begging for mercy. Both sets of fans were urging their sides on as they knew it was there greatest chance to win valuable points with the other one scared to break the shackles.
This failed to happen. Both managers looked content on the touchline making substitutions with no great intent other than to appease their respective fans.
As the game increased in time it decreased in entertaining football. Adebayor was denied with City's only shot on target but was left bemoaning his fortunes further when he couldn't take advantage of a defensive mix-up.
Equally both sides felt they had strong claims for a penalty shout, neither was seen valid. Adebayor was pushed, Benayoun was a millimetre from being clipped.
The game failed to live up to the hype and begs the question, who wants fourth place?
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Date:Sunday February 21 2010
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