Manchester City vs. Liverpool: Winners and Losers from Premier League Game
Stevan Jovetic bagged an impressive brace and Sergio Aguero scored just 23 seconds after coming on to the pitch as Manchester City beat Liverpool 3-1 on Monday at the Etihad Stadium.
Pablo Zabaleta, who was otherwise tremendous against the Reds, scored a late own goal that gave Liverpool the slightest of lifelines, but at the final whistle the reigning Premier League champions were well worth the three points.
City, who beat Newcastle in their first match of the season, are now joint top of the table with Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Swansea while Liverpool, with three points, are situated in ninth position.
Following are some of the winners and losers from Monday's encounter.
Winner: Stevan Jovetic, Who Is Like a New Signing
Stevan Jovetic endured an injury-plagued season in 2013-14, but Manchester City—who acquired the Montenegrin for £22 million from Fiorentina last summer—managed to win the title without the 24-year-old.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini was quoted by Sky Sports as saying after the game:
He was very unlucky last year with injuries. It was very difficult for him to play two or three games in a row. We bought him because we know he is a very good player. He had a very good pre-season and I am very happy for him. He deserves it.
Now back to full fitness, Jovetic's return to manager Pellegrini's setup almost represents a new signing for City, and on Monday the forward struck twice as the champions beat Liverpool 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
His second goal was especially eye-catching.
After springing Samir Nasri with a clever flick, he scampered to the opposite end of the Liverpool box where he awaited his teammate's return, received it and smashed it into the back of the net.
Loser: Dejan Lovren, Who Had a Night to Forget
Dejan Lovren will be looking to put Monday's defeat behind him as quickly as possible.
As Daniel Taylor of The Guardian noted:
Unfortunately for them (Liverpool) it was their defending that let them down last season and this defeat was another reminder that they cannot be so loose at the back.
Jovetic’s first goal was a particular ordeal for Liverpool’s new left-back, Alberto Moreno, and Dejan Lovren, another of their summer signings, will not enjoy the replays of Sergio Aguero’s goal.
The Liverpool defender, who joined the Reds in a £20 million move from Southampton last month, had a nightmarish performance against Manchester City and was caught out of position on all three goals his side lost.
His misplaced header actually assisted the Stevan Jovetic opener, and in the 55th minute he was nowhere to be found as the Montenegro international took a clear shot from close in.
Then, in the 69th minute, he, Martin Skrtel and Alberto Moreno were all caught off guard by Jesus Navas' surprise pass to Sergio Aguero, who galloped in on goal to scored City's third.
Winner: Manuel Pellegrini, Who Has Bottomless Depth
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini will have been impressed with Stevan Jovetic's two-goal performance on Monday. He will also have enjoyed watching Samir Nasri torture the Liverpool defense.
No Premier League manager has the luxury of as much depth as Pellegrini, whose substitute striker—Sergio Aguero—scored City's third goal just 23 seconds after replacing Edin Dzeko.
Jesus Navas, who had himself come on for David Silva just four minutes earlier, assisted on the goal.
Fernandinho also made a late appearance from the bench, but neither Bacary Sagna nor James Milner were called upon.
Frank Lampard wasn't even in the matchday squad.
City and Pellegrini will now head into next weekend's Premier League visit of Stoke City on Saturday in strong form after winning their opening two matches of the campaign.
The current squad compiled by the Chilean already has a stronger look than the one which failed to defend the title two years ago, which bodes well for the remainder of the season.
Loser: Philippe Coutinho, Who Made Little Impact
There are times when it seems Philippe Coutinho should be considered among the top playmakers in the Premier League and an automatic starter in the Brazilian national team.
Monday was not one of those times.
The 22-year-old was mostly a non-factor against Manchester City—shut down by a combination of Fernando, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany and Gael Clichy—and struggling mightily for a sense of where he belonged on the pitch.
His natural talent is obvious, and no one will argue it, but when Mario Balotelli is introduced to Liverpool's starting line-up, manager Brendan Rodgers may be less inclined to consistently include the former Inter Milan playmaker in his new-look side.
Winner: Goal-Line Technology, Which Confirmed Liverpool's Goal
It was only a consolation marker, but Liverpool were briefly lifted by their 83rd-minute goal—a Daniel Sturridge-inspired strike headed goalward by Rickie Lambert that took a deflection off Pablo Zabaleta.
Still, referee Michael Oliver didn't see it breach the goal-line and had to rely on the Premier League's goal-line technology system for confirmation.
Zabaleta, no doubt, will have been less enthused with the vibration on Oliver's wrist watch.
Loser: Steven Gerrard, Who Made Things Too Easy for City
Time and time again, Steven Gerrard left acres of space for opponents to run in behind him on Monday.
Not that he himself was solely to blame for what was too often a disjointed unit in the center of the park, but once again his frequent walkabouts made things easy for opposition attackers and difficult for his own defenders.
The Liverpool captain's ball distribution was well-near impeccable against Manchester City, but Reds boss Brendan Rodgers won't have been at all pleased with other, more tactical aspects of his game.