We've Got The League's Best Midfield & Other Things We Learnt Against City

Anfield buzzed more than it has for five years, Joe Allen is an absolute snip at £15m and Raheem Sterling could, in time, be the new John Barnes. Bring on Arsenal...
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Anfield buzzed more than it has for five years, Joe Allen is an absolute snip at £15m and Raheem Sterling could, in time, be the new John Barnes. Bring on Arsenal...

Whilst Liverpool’s failure to convert their complete dominance of the Manchester City in to three points was frustrating, only the most melancholic of fans would fail to be encouraged by their impressive performance against the defending Premiership champions. Yaya Toure, who scored City’s first equaliser, claimed this was the most difficult game he’s ever played in England, and only some uncharacteristic defensive errors from Martin Kelly and the otherwise excellent Martin Skrtel allowed the Sky Blues to travel back up to M62 with a very fortuitous point. The future is bright under Brendan Rodgers, and here are five things we learned from yesterday’s exhilarating draw at Anfield.

Anfield Was Buzzing

Before the game Brendan Rodgers had spoke of the need to make Anfield a fortress again – and the crowd definitely played their part. The atmosphere – bar a few spells under Rafa and Kenny - has generally been rather flat over recent years, but it was absolutely electric yesterday. The Kop was bouncing, and even when City equalised and looked to be getting a foothold on the game in the second half there was no anxiety from the supporters. When Anfield is in full voice it really is one of the most awesome spectacles in world football, and playing in front of a crowd like that must really give the players confidence. More of the same for the rest of the season please.

Yaya Toure, who scored City’s first equaliser, claimed this was the most difficult game he’s ever played in England.

Raheem Sterling Is Worth His Weight In Gold

The diminutive winger’s inclusion in the starting line-up was a bold statement of intent from Rodgers, who rewarded Sterling’s man-of-the-match performance against Hearts in midweek with the opportunity to replicate it on the biggest stage possible. The youngster didn’t disappoint, putting in a promising performance that proved he is ready to feature for the first-team on a more regular basis, and seemingly leaping ahead of Stewart Downing in the pecking order. Sterling has always been dangerous on the ball, but it was his work off it that needed improving – and under Rodgers he’s improved that rapidly in such a short space of time; he relentlessly pressed high up the pitched and showed a willingness to track back and help Glen Johnson. Although he was outmuscled - understandably - by Carlos Tevez on a few occasions, he showed great awareness to use his body to shield the ball, and has done his chances of making the left wing spot his own no harm at all.

Borini And Suarez Should Switch Positions

It’s still early days, and Suarez and Borini both played well, but I can’t help but think it would be beneficial for both players if Borini was played through the middle and Suarez out wide. Admittedly, I know slightly less about football than Brendan Rodgers, but given each player’s respective strengths it would make sense to switch them round. Borini is a hard worker, has great movement and awareness in and around the box, and is a composed finisher; Suarez, for me, is best when he’s playing off a main striker and is allowed to roam around and create havoc. Also, he seems to score the hardest chances he has, so the further away from the goal he is the better!

Liverpool fans used to sing of having the best midfield in the world, and whilst Xavi, Iniesta and company obviously hold that title, the Reds boast the strongest central midfield core in the league.

£15m For Joe Allen Was A Bargain

Allen’s performance was one of the few positives to take from last week’s game against West Brom, and the Welshman went one better yesterday, putting in an imperious display at the heart of the Liverpool midfield. After Lucas went off injured after five minutes – replaced by the excellent Jonjo Shelvey – the Reds midfield looked to be a little lightweight and unbalanced, but Allen was tenacious and disciplined, protecting the back four effectively and using the ball intelligently; he completed 43 of his 46 passes and it took him 54 minutes to misplace a pass. It is clear to see why Rodgers was desperate to bring him to Anfield, and if he continues to perform at such a high level over the rest of the season he will make a mockery of his price tag.

 We’ve Got The Best Midfield In The League

Liverpool fans used to sing of having the best midfield in the world, and whilst Xavi, Iniesta and company obviously hold that title, the Reds boast the strongest central midfield core in the league. Lucas, Allen, Sahin, and Gerrard, ably supported by Shelvey and Henderson, is better than anything else the Premier League has to offer. Each player offers something different, and with Brendan Rodgers’ system relying on the ability to retain possession, the Reds have the perfect midfield cast to perform his work out on the pitch. Nuri Sahin watched the game from the stands, and must be wondering how he’s going play regularly if his teammates put in performances like that on a regular basis.

You can follow Alex on twitter @woolfc and read more of his work here.

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