After one of the misses of this of this or any other season, Adam Lallana apologised to his Liverpool team-mates for squandering what should have been the winner at Manchester City.
Lallana was seven yards out when, seven minutes from time, Roberto Firmino laid the ball back to the England midfielder with goal at his mercy. Lallana failed to get any kind of proper touch on the ball which dribbled into Willy Caballero’s gloves.
“My eyes lit up,” Lallana reflected ruefully after Sunday’s 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium. “I just thought to myself: ‘if I get some connection on this, it’s a goal’. It just took a bounce in front of me and I just might have taken my eyes off the ball for a second and got excited.
Manchester City 1 Liverpool 1 player ratings
Manchester City 1 Liverpool 1 player ratings
1/22 Willy Caballero – 5 out of 10
Had a relatively quiet day – only conceding from Milner’s penalty.
2/22 Gael Clichy – 5 out of 10
He was crashing into challenges, defending bravely and winning every aerial challenge.
3/22 John Stones – 6 out of 10
Made a number of vital interceptions and clearances. Tough defending from the back.
4/22 Nicolas Otamendi – 7 out of 10
Failed to keep up with the City strikers pace, but made up for it with headers and clearances.
5/22 Gael Clichy – 5 out of 10
Gave away the penalty for Milner’s opener. Terrible decision for a man of such experience.
6/22 Yaya Toure – 6 out of 10
He was reading the game well from the middle of the park and opening the defence by spreading the balls wide.
7/22 Raheem Sterling – 6 out of 10
He used the width well, but he needs to be more clinical in front of goal.
8/22 Kevin De Bruyne – 7 out of 10
Deliveries were sublime and he was pumping balls into the forwards continuously. Assist for Aguero was world class.
9/22 David Silva – 7 out of 10
As always, he was picking the ball up and using possession tremendously. He’s quick, skilful and is a nightmare to play against.
10/22 Leroy Sane – 7 out of 10
As always, his pace caused problems for the Liverpool defence and he was an all round nuisance to play against.
11/22 Sergio Aguero – 6 out of 10
His goal levelled the scoring for Guardiola’s side, but he had a hard time today against the Liverpool central defenders.
12/22 Simon Mignolet – 5 out of 10
Made a handful of vital saves, but was beaten by Aguero in the second half.
13/22 Nathaniel Clyne – 6 out of 10
Had a tough afternoon against the pace of Sane, but he held his own and worked well.
14/22 Ragnar Klavan – 6 out of 10
Stuck tight with Matip and this kept Aguero relatively quiet.
15/22 Joel Matip – 6 out of 10
He made a number of crucial interceptions and clearances, but he needs to be careful when giving away fouls.
16/22 James Milner – 7 out of 10
Scored the opener after an encouraging display. He defended well and attacked relentlessly.
17/22 Adam Lallana – 6 out of 10
Defensively there is room for improvement, but going forward he passed well and created a handful of chances.
18/22 Emre Can – 5 out of 10
Was outplayed in the middle of the park at times by City’s midfielders. Needs to improve his aerial game.
19/22 Georginio Wijnaldum – 6 out of 10
Drifted in and out of the game at times. Needs to make more of an impact in the games against bigger clubs.
20/22 Sadio Mane – 8 out of 10
Was Liverpool’s biggest threat going forward – quick, skilful and he oozes confidence.
21/22 Roberto Firmino - 7 out of 10
Was the target for every Liverpool attack and when he received the service – he caused problems.
22/22 Philippe Coutinho – 5 out of 10
His deliveries were poor, particularly from set pieces. Needs to regain the fine form that the fans will be wishing for.
“I am absolutely gutted. It could have proven to be the winner and it was a big moment in the game. I am so disappointed with it. Me being me, I went into the dressing room and said sorry to them all. To not hit the target. . .”
Had Lallana scored, Liverpool would have beefed up what is already a remarkable record against the Premier League’s top seven. Liverpool have taken 23 points from the 11 games against their nearest rivals but have lost to Burnley, Bournemouth, Hull and Swansea and failed to win at Sunderland.
The Merseyside derby, which comes immediately after the international break, is Liverpool’s last big match. Their remaining eight fixtures will be against the kind of teams they have struggled against.
“You would rather the problem were this way round rather than struggling to get points against the top teams,” said Lallana. “I am sure it will be easier to correct and get points against the teams that are scrapping against relegation in the future. We know we need to work on that and our record against them needs to be better.”