Mahrez penalty miss sees Manchester City and Liverpool share the points at Anfield

Manchester City Liverpool Premier League Tactical Analysis Analysis

With the Premier League hotting up, this match was expected to be a thriller. Instead, a match with so much potential ended in a goalless draw. With Liverpool and Manchester City both sitting pretty at the top of the table, it was almost as if neither team wanted to risk a loss. We look at the statistics to see what happened.

Laid Back City

It is well known that City have struggled to win at Anfield in recent years, and that may have contributed to Pep’s change in plan. City were set up to play a lot slower and with less attacking threat than usual.

They only edged the possession by 2%, City having 51% of the possession and Liverpool having 49%, which is a lot less possession than they are used to. They only had 6 shots throughout the course of the game with only 2 of those on target.

This is not like the City we are used to seeing, however, their strategy did manage to keep Liverpool at bay, as they weren’t allowed those opportunities to race forward and apply pressure.

Defensively they were great, which is nice to see as most of the time it has been their slight downside. They won 49 duels, 16 aerial duels, 69% of tackles and made 26 clearances.

The Penalty

When Sané was bought down by Virgil van Dijk and Riyad Mahrez stepped up to the penalty spot, there was a bit of a debate between the players. Gabriel Jesus wanted to take the penalty but Mahrez insisted it was his. An aggravated Jesus stepped back allowing Mahrez the opportunity. Was this the right decision? Maybe not.

Mahrez has now missed five out of his last eight penalties and more importantly, he cost City a crucial three points that would have seen them take the lead at the top of the table, and secure their first victory at Anfield in 18 matches.

Graph showing Mahrez’s previous five penalty attempts

Who knows if Jesus would have scored, but what we do know is Mahrez missed, and it was an awful miss. The attempt was well off target and went sailing over the crossbar into the crowd behind. While Mahrez was brave to step up and have a go, you can’t help but wonder what if someone else had taken it?

Conclusion

A lacklustre end to a match surrounded by expectation. Two teams in their prime, the champions and the challengers, played a match that didn’t show off their best qualities. In the end, a share of the points was probably fair, with neither team really gunning for the win. All three teams at the top of the table go into the international break on 20 points, and the title is very much up for grabs at this stage in the season. Hopefully, City will bring back their star quality after the break and bring home the points.