After both teams displayed signs of post-World Cup rust, Manchester City eliminated Liverpool from the League Cup.


Following a 3-2 victory over Liverpool on Thursday, Manchester City advanced to the League Cup’s round of eight. It was a back and forth match, but the entire attack got involved. With a helper from Kevin de Bruyne, Erling Haaland scored the game’s opening goal, making it seem as though domestic soccer never left. When Fabio Carvalho discovered a gap in the first half, Liverpool would not trail for long. Both teams lacked mental clarity as Manchester City dominated the first half but failed to score to show for it. After City seized the lead a minute into the second half, Darwin Nunez, who had also struggled early, made up for it by outmuscling Aymeric Laporte to set up Mohamed Salah for the Reds’ second goal.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin provided the assist by delivering a superb ball forward that sped past the Manchester City defense and made the job of the assault much easier. At halftime, Jurgen Klopp recognized the Reds’ defensive frailties and introduced Fabinho and Oxlade-Chamberlin. As De Bruyne blasted another assist into Nathan Ake’s forehead, it wouldn’t be enough to fix Liverpool’s defensive issues.

In a sloppy game for both teams, Ake glided through the Liverpool defense unnoticed to score the game-winning goal. However, given that it was their first match since mid-November, that was to be expected. Liverpool won the League Cup last year, but after falling to Manchester City, their hopes of a repeat were dashed.

Observations from the game include the following:

The Reds are becoming healthier just in time.

With Oxlade-Chamberlin and Naby Keita, Liverpool’s midfield has depth once again. It couldn’t have come at a better moment because Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz are still out for the foreseeable future and the complete team will be needed over a busy holiday period. After joining the field, Oxlade-Chamberlin was directly involved in a goal, and Keita gained some much-needed playing time. Because Oxlade-Chamberlin can play many roles, Klopp won’t have to put too much pressure on young players like Carvalho. Despite scoring in the first half, he had trouble making an impression and was taken out of the game at the break. With five substitutions every game, Klopp has significant flexibility thanks to reliable subs.

City can win the title with the help of Kevin de Bruyne.

De Bruyne appeared human at the World Cup as Belgium struggled and lost in the group stage, but now that he is back with Manchester City, he has been reborn. Although Liverpool’s defense didn’t present much of a challenge, no one can play the passes that de Bruyne makes with ease into the box. His two assists were both top-notch.

De Bruyne was able to make up for City’s defense, which allowed Liverpool to easily break through, by creating five chances and taking two shots. There will be times when City plays a game like that, but with de Bruyne on their side, City can win games that other teams can’t, as this one demonstrated. This may be good for City going ahead as Arsenal learns how to maintain their championship defense without Gabriel Jesus.

Darwin Nunez’s two sides are once more evident.

The Premier League’s most thrilling player is Nunez. He assists Salah by burning Laporte down the sides in one moment, then drags an open shot wide right in the next, which could have late tied the game for Liverpool.

Nunez has the skill to dominate the Premier League, but if Klopp can’t bring out more of Nunez’s positive traits, Liverpool will remain a midtable team. When he’s off his game, the Uruguayan international affects Liverpool, as evidenced by the fact that none of his shots against City were on target and that the single dribble he made was to set up Salah. The main question of the first half of the season was whether the former Benfica player would show up, and based on this little look at Liverpool in a competitive game, it is likely that it will continue into the second.