Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Sunday November 27 2005
City of Manchester Stadium
Another drab encounter on a Saturday afternoon was served up in front of 47,000 supporters at Eastlands. As was widely predicted, the minutes silence for George Best was hijacked by both City and Liverpool imbeciles and subsequently cut short by referee Alan Wiley. This shouldn't be allowed to reflect badly on the 99% present who were capable of showing some dignity, rather on the naivety of the Premiership to enforce a silence that belongs to Manchester United on a crowd for a Manchester City/Liverpool fixture.
The game itself was very much like the previous week's against Blackburn, the one consolation being that City at least managed one shot on target this week. Liverpool probably edged the encounter enough to justify their victory but looked anything but European champions in doing so. Best player for Liverpool had to be Gerrard when he moved infield, so can any Liverpool supporter tell me why Benitez insists on playing him out right?
For City's part we looked lightweight at best. The lack of experience running through the team shone through and despite the bright start and large amounts of effort produced we eventually resorted to hoofing the ball upfield for Hyypia and Carragher to mop up. Musampa had a particularly poor game out on the left and really needs to start to produce the form from last season to keep his place. At the back City looked as comfortable as ever with Dunne in particularly fine form. Crouch and Cisse were limited to bit part roles, a fact supported by both being substituted in the second half. Barton looked rusty and Ireland had his worst game to date and it was in this area that Liverpool won the game. They were simply allowed to much time and possession, the way they thrive in Europe, rather than being harried and harrassed.
All in all a game of poor quality was settled by Liverpool converting their one clear chance and City missing theirs, Vassell heading wide when on his own in the first half. The atmosphere was flat especially when you consider the emotions normally aroused by a Manchester/Merseyside fixture but it really is hard for supporters to lift the teams when they produce such poor football throughout. On the City front the early season form is looking a long way away at present. Pearce is aware of this and will undoubtedly looking to strengthen come January. In the meantime the youngsters must try and raise their games to the standards of a few weeks ago and try and pick up a steady flow of points before the window opens.
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Date:Sunday November 27 2005
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