It is in this type of contest that Steven Gerrard's value to Liverpool can be fully understood. Against a compact and deep-sitting Manchester City side there appeared little scope for the home team to snatch more than a point unless their captain could provide a masterful moment. He duly delivered. Gerrard's burden of not having scored a League goal this season was lifted.
Jamie Carragher believes the pressure Gerrard has been placed under for scoring just three times in 21 club appearances this season is unfair. "He's a midfielder so he shouldn't be judged on goals," said Carragher.
"He should be judged on his all-round game. The problem is that people have looked at his goals because of what he did last season."
Ultimately, Rafa Benitez's use of an unusual 3-5-2 - with Carragher playing on the right and Steve Finnan pushed up into midfield - was vindicated by a narrow Liverpool victory.
Manchester City regretted their missed chances when Dirk Kuyt supplied Gerrard, who charged down the middle and drove the ball beyond Nicky Weaver.
Liverpool had started the better side but the game began slipping out of their control, with Bernardo Corradi - so effective in City's previous game against Fulham - squandering the visitors' best openings. Benitez defended his team, though. "When there are about 21 players in one half of the field, it's not easy to find spaces," he said.
Liverpool now have an identical home record to Chelsea - six wins, one draw, 14 scored and three conceded. Why they cannot grind out results such as this one when they play away from home remains a mystery. Perhaps it is solely down to Gerrard to make the difference.
Goal: Gerrard (67) 1-0.
Liverpool (3-5-2): Reina; Carragher, Hyypia, Agger; Finnan, Garcia (Pennant, 59), Gerrard, Zenden, Riise; Crouch (Fowler, 65), Kuyt (Bellamy, 89). Substitutes not used: Dudek (gk), Paletta
Manchester City (4-5-1): Weaver; Onuoha (Samaras, 74), Dunne, Distin, Thatcher; Reyna, Trabelsi (Ireland, 85), Richards, Barton, Vassell; Corradi. Substitutes not used: Hart (gk), Dickov, Hamann.
Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).
Booked: Liverpool Garcia, Carragher; Manchester City Thatcher.
Man of the match: Gerrard.
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