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Man City blow chance to win at Liverpool as Aguero struggles, Mahrez misses penalty

LIVERPOOL, England -- Three thoughts on Sunday's top-of-the-table clash at Anfield in which Liverpool and Man City settled for a 0-0 draw.

1. Mahrez spares Liverpool with penalty howler

Riyad Mahrez blew the chance to inflict Liverpool's first Premier League defeat of the season by sending an 85th minute penalty high over the crossbar as Manchester City missed the opportunity reclaim top spot in the Premier League.

With regular spot-kick taker Sergio Aguero on the bench after being substituted 20 minutes earlier, summer signing Mahrez stepped up to win the game for City, taking the ball of Gabriel Jesus in the process. But the Algerian sent his penalty over the bar, spurning the chance to hand City their first win at Anfield since 2003.

As a result, the two teams, who started the day as the top two, extended their unbeaten start to the season, but they are now locked on 20 points with Chelsea, who won earlier in the day at Southampton.

Having lost at Anfield in the league and Champions League last season, City shaded this encounter and had two appeals for a penalty rejected by referee Martin Atkinson before he pointed to the spot after Virgil van Dijk's foul on Leroy Sane.

Liverpool, now without a win in four games, struggled to test the City goal, leaving goalkeeper Ederson largely untroubled. But despite seeing Mahrez waste the chance to bag three points, City at least ended their miserable Anfield run and denied the home side a morale-boosting victory in their bid to win the title for the first time since 1990.

Mahrez will come to rue his penalty miss at Anfield as Man City missed their chance to win at Liverpool for the first time since 2003.
Mahrez will come to rue his penalty miss at Anfield as Man City missed their chance to win at Liverpool for the first time since 2003.

2. Sulky Aguero has another blank away game

Sergio Aguero was not happy when he was substituted midway through the second half by Pep Guardiola. The Argentine walked slowly off the pitch, half-heartedly accepted a hug from his manager and then slapped away a coach's handshake before petulantly pulling the hood over his head after grabbing a substitutes' jacket.

It had been a miserable afternoon for Aguero, who has now gone 10 games without scoring at Anfield. He was denied a first-half penalty when kicked in the box by Dejan Lovren before picking up a second-half booking for a frustrated foul on Jordan Henderson.

So what is eating City's all-time record goal scorer? Is he still struggling to convince Guardiola that he is his best striker?

It shouldn't be in any doubt, because Aguero is a lethal finisher. But he is becoming less of a threat away from home, and Guardiola needs more from him. In 2018, Aguero has scored 14 league goals, but only one -- in the recent 5-0 win at Cardiff -- has come away from the Etihad.

Before his goal at Cardiff, his previous away goal in the Premier League came last December at Swansea, so he clearly delivers less on his travels. And in a game like this one at Anfield, when he doesn't score, Aguero needs to do more to help his team, otherwise he might have to get accustomed to being taken off or starting on the bench.

Gomez more than held his own against Sterling on the flank as he showed he can still play full-back as well as central defence.
Gomez more than held his own against Sterling on the flank as he showed he can still play full-back as well as central defence.

3. Gomez's versatility highlights his value

Jurgen Klopp made a surprise decision by dropping Trent Alexander-Arnold in favour of Joe Gomez at right-back, but the Liverpool manager's selection was vindicated by the 21-year-old's outstanding performance.

But for an ankle injury which required surgery last season, Gomez would almost certainly have claimed a place in England's World Cup squad, so highly is he rated by manager Gareth Southgate. Gomez has worked his way back into the international setup in his preferred position at centre-half, but he showed against City that he can operate just as well at full-back.

Gomez was given the task of marking former Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling in this game and it was a well-fought battle, with both players having their moments. Sterling's experience gave him the edge at times, but Gomez stuck to his task; if he made a mistake, he was able to rectify it almost instantly. There were also moments where Gomez dominated his England teammate by physically out-muscling him and beating him for pace.

Gomez has every attribute required to become a top defender: he is tall, quick and physically strong but also reads the game well. Against City, he showed what an asset he has become for Klopp's team.


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