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Transfer Rater: Herrera to Barcelona, Sane to Juve

Football Whispers
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Aymeric Laporte 9/10 as Man City come away with 0-0 draw at Liverpool

After a scoreless draw between Liverpool and Man City, Craig Burley says we're in for an exciting title race with three teams tied at the top.
After a scoreless draw between Liverpool and Man City, Craig Burley says we're in for an exciting title race with three teams tied at the top.
In a match that didn't generate much attack from either side, Riyad Mahrez's penalty miss was the difference between a draw and a potential City win.

There were none of the volcanic eruptions of last season's two Anfield clashes between these sides and in the end, a missed penalty was all that separated City from their third win at Liverpool since 1981. Riyad Mahrez, with a rising shot that was high as soon as it left his boot, will rue the urge that made him claim the ball for that spot-kick but perhaps his shot encapsulated the inaccuracy that had dotted much of the previous 88 minutes.

Positives

City's character was once again tested in the one stadium above all others where it rarely clicks for City. Set up slightly cautiously, the formation opened up gradually as it became evident that Liverpool's recent poor form was continuing. Aymeric Laporte and John Stones cemented their positions as the first-choice partnership at the back.

Negatives

City's worst record by a country mile could have been slightly improved with a converted penalty two minutes from the end of this hard fought but slapdash game. Instead it reads "without a win since 2003." Liverpool have won 12 and drawn six over this span.

Manager rating out of 10

8 --  By appointing Bernardo Silva to a No. 8 role alongside Fernandinho, Pep Guardiola's cautious Almost-Plan-B was revealed. With David Silva well marked by Jordan Henderson, it was only as the little Spaniard gradually escaped his marker's attentions that City's more expansive style could begin to flourish.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Ederson, 7 -- The early rush around his goal did not materialise but the proliferation of longer, more speculative goal kicks and shorter, more cautious throw-outs, told its own story.

DF Kyle Walker, 7 -- A strong run up the right early on warned Liverpool of an attacking threat that never bore fruit. Still muscling his way backwards alongside Sadio Mane with a minute left on the clock.

DF John Stones, 9 -- Imperious at the back although Liverpool's forward movement was not as lightning fast as usual.

DF Aymeric Laporte, 9 -- Tight and reliable throughout and forming a well-calibrated partnership with Stones. Essential head to a cross in the chaos straight after the penalty miss at the other end.

Laporte, left, coped admirably with Liverpool's pacy front three and showed why he's part of Man City's first-choice centre-back partnership.
Laporte, left, coped admirably with Liverpool's pacy front three and showed why he's part of Man City's first-choice centre-back partnership.

DF Benjamin Mendy, 6 -- Erratic passing, especially when cutting inside. Seems also to have failed as yet to regain his pace from last season as Mohamed Salah sailed past him down the flank.

MF Fernandinho, 8 -- Tidy performer in the midfield quagmire. Putting a foot in when Liverpool tried to break. Had City's first shot (in the 57th minute) but may have preferred not to have bothered.

MF David Silva, 7 -- Well marked by Henderson for 30 minutes but as he broke free of the attention, City's attacking game began to take shape. Absolutely no coincidence in that. It was his slide-rule pass that set Leroy Sane through for the penalty.

MF Bernardo Silva, 8 -- Excellent once again, firstly in a withdrawn role and later as an increasingly influential forward force. Close control, tracking back and always with an intelligent out-ball.

FW Raheem Sterling, 7 -- On old territory and distracted once again by the booing. Came into it later, but substituted for Leroy Sane.

FW Riyad Mahrez, 6 -- Turning back too much early on, he came into some better form after the break, bringing saves out of Allisson Becker. Sadly the 88th minute penalty needed no such treatment from the watching keeper.

FW Sergio Aguero, 6 -- His record at this ground matches his club's. Another blank.

Substitutes

FW Gabriel Jesus, 7 -- On for Aguero after 64 minutes and looked up for it. One slalom round Joe Gomez and through Dejan Lovren was halted by the Croatian's brusque hand-off.

FW Leroy Sane, NR -- Came on for Raheem Sterling on 74 minutes and was quickly into gear down the left, being brought down by Virgil van Dijk for the late penalty.

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