Pellegrini faces fresh criticism over tactical naivety
FA Premier League
Sunday 01 March 2015, 12.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Mangala, Kolarov, Fernandinho (Bony 78), Toure, Nasri (Lampard 83), Silva, Aguero, Dzeko (Milner 58)
Unused: Caballero, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernando
Goals: Dzeko (25)
Booked: Nasri, Milner, Bony
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the match: Aguero
After the disastrous performance against Barcelona earlier this week, the pressure was ramped up on Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City as they headed to Anfield . It was a chance for the defending champions to close the gap on Chelsea to just two points, as the league leaders faced Spurs in the Capital One cup final.
Pellegrini again boldly stuck to his 442 formation, with Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko leading the line, and Samir Nasri and David Silva supplying the service. Yaya Toure was back fresh from suspension, and in defence Aleksandr Kolarov and Eliaquim Mangala replaced Gael Clichy and Martin Demichelis.
Vincent Kompany has been much maligned this week, and was again at fault for Liverpool's first goal. City's captain lost the ball high up the pitch, and Jordan Henderson hit a superb shot into the top corner from twenty five yards out. It was another nightmare start for Pellegrini's side, but City responded well and soon found a deserved equaliser through Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian striker collected Sergio Aguero's fine pass before lashing a shot past Simon Mignolet.
As the second half started, Liverpool were immediately on the front foot. City's formation enabled Coutinho and Lallana far too much space and time on the ball, with Yaya Toure and Fernandinho being completely outnumbered. It didn't help that Samir Nasri and David Silva neglected their defensive duties, and eventually Liverpool took a deserved lead. This time, Coutinho was the scorer as the Brazil international curled home a sublime striker past a despairing Joe Hart.
It was yet another disappointing City performance, with Pellegrini facing criticism again for his naive tactics in a big match. It was a game which effectively rendered City's title defence over, barring a Chelsea collapse and an incredible run of form. The pressure will surely grow on Pellegrini if the Blues are eliminated from the Champions League at Barcelona in two weeks time.