Liverpool and Manchester City played out a thrilling 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
James Milner’s penalty in the second half gave Liverpool the lead, but Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero brought his side back on level terms converting Kevin de Bruyne’s pass in the 69th minute.
Stones’ best performance for Manchester City
Since his big-money move to City in the summer, John Stones has seen nothing but criticism come his way. However, his performance against Liverpool was arguably his finest display of the season.
His phenomenal ball-playing qualities were on show as he completed a remarkable 94 per cent of his passes while he also put in a shift in midfield and played the ball forward into the stride of the attacking players. He also made several vital defensive contributions that were pivotal in helping City secure a point.
He had a rare mishap as his loose pass in the first half saw Sadio Mane run clear and almost score. However, he redeemed himself with two crucial blocks and a sliding tackle on the Senegalese as he raced clear late on.
At just 22, he has plenty of time left to develop and his performance against Liverpool suggests he is improving rapidly.
Emre Can finally shows a bit of promise
Jordan Henderson did not recover in time for the game, which saw Emre Can start as a holding midfielder. He escaped a yellow card in the initial stages of the game and quickly settled into his role and put in one of his best performances from the middle of the park.
The German impressed earlier in the season in a slightly more advanced role, but his showings have gone downhill since. Recently, he improved his game by providing a physical presence in front of the defence.
It usually takes the 23-year-old time to make a position his own, but his performance against City proved that he can pull strings for Jurgen Klopp’s side in the years to come. Henderson is expected to replace him when he is back, but Can could serve as an ideal understudy.
Lallana fluffs his lines
Adam Lallana was handed a golden opportunity to win the game towards the end of the second half, but fluffed his lines as he lost his balance, giving Caballero the opportunity to hold the ball.
The English midfielder’s performance throughout the game was ordinary. Although he managed a shot on goal, he was generally quiet in the first half other than what was expected from him
He came into the game in the second half, but will be disappointed to have squandered his golden opportunity to take all three points. Luckily for Liverpool and Lallana, Aguero also rued City’s late chance to win the game when he skied the ball from point blank range.
Coutinho not quite up to his best yet
Philippe Coutinho barely got into the game in the first half. He did not show any improvement from the performance against Burnley where Klopp decided to replace him with Ben Woodburn in the second period.
Even against City, he struggled with his first touch and his end product non-existent. He had a pass completion of just 60% in the first half. He looked far from threatening in the penalty area, and failed to capitalise from the half chances that came his way.
But in the second half, he was much improved. He looked livelier, cutting in from the left to influence the game, and played a couple of good through-balls to Firmino. Hopefully for Klopp, the Brazilian returns to his best as Liverpool will be in a tough fight to finish in the top four.
Caballero showed exactly why Guardiola has picked him over Bravo
Willy Caballero put in another fine showing in the City goal, whose form has seen summer signing Claudio Bravo settle for a spot on the bench. In the first half, Caballero kept out goal-scoring opportunities from Mane, Lallana as well as Firmino.
Since the game against Crystal Palace at the end of January when he was given the No.1 status, he’s played nine games and conceded just eight, with six of those coming against goal-hungry Monaco – Europe’s most potent attacking side.