Neil Adams made just one change from the side that dominated Fulham last week, but that ultimately came home with nothing to show for their efforts, with Gary Hooper replacing RvW.
Earlier this week, I wrote an article in which I suggested that the way to beat Liverpool and in particular, Luis Suarez was to keep things tight, not so tight that you give away fouls but be close enough to them to limit their play.
As it turned out City did exactly the opposite and allowed the visitors plenty of room as they saw Liverpool start very quickly, as they often do.
They were first to everything in those early moments and pressed City backwards before on four minutes, the ball was given to Raheem Sterling just over 20 yards out. The young forward side stepped Bradley Johnson before smashing a drive into John Ruddy’s top right hand corner. It took a slight nick off of Michael Turner, I think, but even so it was a poor goal to concede so early in a match of this magnitude.
I feared the worst as the Liverpool fans went ballistic, they were already singing ‘We’re gonna win the league…’ before the game even kicked off and on eleven minutes things got worse as Liverpool scored again through Luis Suarez.
Just before that, Ruddy had made a good save from Joe Allen but the warnings were not heeded.
Sterling turned provider as he raced down the left and played the pantomime villain in with a simple pass. Suarez had the easy task of side footing the ball past Ruddy into the corner of the goal and the visiting fans went nuts again.
‘Game over’ I texted at this point to a mate who lives in London. I was fully expecting a hammering now as my eight year old son said to me ‘Daddy, I can’t bear to watch.’
For the next ten minutes or so, Liverpool continued to dominate before City suddenly sprang into life and it was curious in the way it happened. I might be completely wrong but I noted that a couple of tough tackles by Johnson and then Snodgrass, in quick succession, got the crowd going and suddenly the home side started to play.
Johnson snapped into tackles and became the dominant midfield player as City started to get closer to Mignolet’s goal. Hooper couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet after a Turner knock down before Nathan Redmond hit a stinging drive at the Liverpool keeper, who could only parry the ball away.
City went in at half time with no change in the score and a feeling that the ship had been steadied. Neil Adams admitted after the game that he’d given the players ‘a blast’ during the break and whatever he said – it worked.
Norwich came out unchanged and went for it. A succession of corners and long periods of possession were finally rewarded with a goal on 55 minutes.
Mignolet flapped at Whittaker’s cross and the ball fell to Hooper who scored easily from eight yards out.
Rather than ‘game over’ it was now ‘game on’ as the home fans urged their men on and Liverpool looked shaken. But the game saw the winning goal on 62 minutes when Sterling intercepted a cross field pass from Bradley Johnson and raced forward. He drove into the area and avoided the defence before striking at goal.
Johnson had got back and lunged in, unfortunately he only succeeded in deflecting the ball over Ruddy and into the net. As Brendan Rogers and co ran onto the pitch in wild celebration, Johnson sank to his knees and tried to bury his head in the ground.
He was hauled up by Martin and they got on with it. It was a shame as up until then, Johnno had been terrific.
However, the home side didn’t give up and continued to play and try to get something from the game, forcing more corners before getting the reward their pressure had deserved on 77 minutes. Just a few moments earlier, Snodgrass forced Mignolet into pushing the ball round his left hand post with a stinging drive and it was the City winger who got the goal.
Another cross came into the box from the excellent Olsson and Snodgrass climbed highest to head into the net.
Neil Adams immediately went for it and replaced Fer, who had been quiet and Hooper with Josh Murphy and RvW.
For the second game in a row, Ricky almost scored. This time, he was on the end of a cross from the left wing and got a decent downward contact on the ball as he headed straight at Mignolet, who gathered on the line.
Rodgers responded by replacing Allen with Agger to try to shore up the Liverpool defence that was certainly creaking now. They tried to run the clock down and the anguish and frustration could be seen etched on Gerrard’s face as he thumped the floor after having to stretch to put a Murphy cross out for another corner. He screamed at his team mates to ‘Sort it out!’
Despite John Ruddy coming forward for an injury time corner, City couldn’t force the equaliser that their second half performance had deserved and Liverpool celebrated moments later as they won their eleventh game in a row.
I cannot criticise much today, other than the first twenty minutes when Liverpool started quickly and we were dozing. After that and Adams’ half time blast, City were very good and if they play like that in the next three games then they will have a chance.
Obviously the previous regime can be blamed for the position we are in and Adams has nothing to lose by being positive but it does beg the question ‘What if we’d played like this all season?’
The passion shown by the lads here suggests that they haven’t given up and will fight to the death in pursuit of maintaining our Premier League status.
One final word about Luis Suarez though. Great player that he is, he has an alarming tendency to cheat. Last week, he dived in the most embarrassing way and his clear simulation should’ve brought a second yellow card against Man City.
Today he did something not dissimilar as he went for the ball with Leroy Fer. Leroy won the ball and didn’t touch him but despite that, Suarez fell to the floor clutching his leg and rolled about for a few seconds. Andre Marriner ignored him as Liverpool won the ball back and the Uruguayan sprang to his feet and raced off in support of the attack – an absolute embarrassment.
He has the potential to be one of the world’s great players and some of the things he does can only be applauded as sensational – but when he bites people, uses racist language, handles the ball in a World Cup quarter final to stop a certain goal and week in, week out, rolls around trying to win fouls and get players booked/sent off then all you can describe him as is a cheat.
Before you Liverpool fans start commenting – I’m not bitter about all those goals (12) that he has scored against us and I hope you do win the league this season, you absolutely deserve it.
But Luis Suarez is a long way from being anywhere near the player or man for that matter, that Lionel Messi is.