LONDON: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini may have second thoughts about his tactical experimentation when he reviews the 2-2 draw at Liverpool rescued by two goals from Carlos Tevez.
Mancini has sought to surprise his challengers in the early weeks of the season with a 3-5-2 formation and a zonal marking system. Liverpool, however, embarrassed them on the wings in the first half when Martin Skrtel stormed forward unmarked to head home a Steven Gerrard corner for the opening goal.
That strike was important. This was Liverpool’s first goal of the season, the first City had conceded and it calmed the nerves of an Anfield crowd still wondering, nervously, what to expect from new manager Brendan Rodgers.
Swansea’s displays last season under Rodgers suggested that possession-based football would be his ambition and that has been enhanced by his signing, on loan for the season, of ex-Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin after an injury-muddled year at Real Madrid.
The 23-year-old is Rodgers’s fourth new arrival after Fabio Borini, Oussama Assaidi and Wales’ Olympic international Joe Allen who was outstanding in the midfield holding roll against Manchester City.
Liverpool saw off competition from Arsenal for Sahin who attributed his choice partly to the influence of Xabi Alonso who had joined Madrid from Liverpool in 2009.
Sahin, asked whether he had discussed Liverpool with Alonso, said: “Of course, a lot of times. When he heard Liverpool were interested in me, he started telling me about the club. I think he is still in love with Liverpool Football Club. He said: ‘Go there, you will love it. The fans will take care of you and love you’ and things like that.
“He said Anfield is the best stadium in the world. Xabi won a lot of trophies here, and hopefully we can do that too. I had three injuries last year. The team played very well but I didn’t play too many games, so that’s why I spoke to Real Madrid and told them I wanted to go somewhere I could play football for a year.”
Sahin may soon have his chance. Brazilian midfielder Lucas was injured in the warm-up against City, thought he could carry on but then had to be substituted after only three minutes. Not that Liverpool were harmed, initially. They dominated the first half apart from one incident when Tevez clipped an impossibly-angled shot against a post.
The new eager, slim-line Tevez continued working away into the second half and, just after the hour, produced the right-wing cross which prompted chaos in the Liverpool defence so Kolo Toure could jab an equaliser.
He then punished a mistake by Skrtel to pull City back on terms a second time after Liverpool had regained the lead with a free kick from their own South American superstar, Luis Suarez.
For City it was a lucky escape from an entertaining game. Mancini is close to signing winger Scott Sinclair from Swansea but may need to review his thinking not so much about attack as his defence.
** Arsenal are still searching for their first goal and first win of the season after a poor goalless draw with Stoke. Santi Cazorla was again their best player though Lukas Podolski was unlucky when an early effort hit the arm of falling defender Andy Wilkinson.
The Gunners’ most threatening spell of the game came in the closing stages – after the disappointing Podolski and Gervinho had been substituted by Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
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