Manchester City player ratings: Lack of inspiration dooms Citizens

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 31: A dejected Sergio Aguero of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on December 31, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 31: A dejected Sergio Aguero of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on December 31, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images) /

In what could be a pivotal bout in the Premier League title race, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool outlasted Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City 1-0. The Sky Blues weren’t terrible, but they weren’t good enough. When City only gets its first corner kick late in the first half and starts looking dangerous 55 minutes in, it’s not a recipe for success. Guardiola’s men didn’t have a moment of brilliance or a piece of inspiration to change the match in its favor. In the eighth minute, Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum did for the Reds. Putting aside Liverpool’s organization and work ethic, that was the difference.

Manchester City. CLAUDIO BRAVO. C+. Frankly, Bravo didn’t have a lot to do in the match. Liverpool only had a single shot on target, Georginio Wijnaldum’s power header goal. He couldn’t do much about it. He is to blame, however, for a mistimed one-handed punch in the first half that didn’t clear the ball out of the danger area. His distribution out of the back was ho-hum and more of the mediocre same.. GK

C. His effort is beyond reproach, and he started to push forward a bit in the second half. Yet, Zab’s performance is haunted by not closing down Adam Lallana in the eighth minute. Lallana made him and City pay for it with a scintillating ball to the rushing Wijnaldum.. RB. Manchester City. PABLO ZABALETA

RCB. Manchester City. JOHN STONES. B-. Stones showed some stones today. He had some critical tackles that stopped Liverpool in its tracks before playing City’s midfielders forward to start the attack. This is exactly what Pep wants, so we saw improvement from the young English international today.

C+. Otamendi did what Otamendi does: He, in tandem with John Stones, suffocated Roberto Firmino for most of the match. Sure, his passing out of the back is not what Pep Guardiola wants, but he’s not responsible for City dropping points today. That second half yellow card was unduly harsh too.. LCB. Manchester City. NICOLAS OTAMENDI

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C-. Kolarov’s defense, or lack thereof, was again exposed, and it cost City points again. He gave away the ball that started Liverpool’s break. The ball made its way across the field to Lallana, then Wijnaldum emphatic forehead. Wijnaldum was Kolarov’s man. The failure, City’s defeat, ultimately falls on his shoulders in those moments.. LB. Manchester City. ALEKSANDAR KOLAROV

CDM. Manchester City. FERNANDINHO . C. Fernandinho looked rusty after spending most of December on the bench due to suspension. He didn’t move the ball fast enough from side-to-side despite City’s dominance in possession. The defense isn’t good enough for City to look so anemic in attack. The club often falls behind early, as it did today, and doesn’t look like it wants to equalize until sometime in the second half. He and City’s other midfielders were outplayed by their Liverpool counterparts, and so a sizeable amount of the blame falls on him.

YAYA TOURE. C-. Yaya Toure, like Fernandinho, was too slow in possession. This was epitomized by his medicine ball back to the center backs in the first half that was pilfered by Lallana. If it wasn’t for Firmino being a hair offside, it should have resulted in an open break on Bravo and most likely a goal. Unacceptable from Toure, who due to his form and injury, has made his way back into the first team.. CDM. Manchester City

B. Silva was the brightest spot in a lackluster City side today. He didn’t have much space to operate in the first half. Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and Wijnaldum saw to that. But in the second half, those pockets of space started to open up, and Silva started to dictate the match into City’s hands. He almost delivered it with a low shot that veered wide of Simon Mignolet’s goal. If only he had, things might have been different. Without a doubt, he was City’s most dangerous player even though he often failed to link up with Sergio Aguero.. LCM. Manchester City. DAVID SILVA

C. De Bruyne’s long run of poor form continues. Liverpool prevented him from seeing much of the ball in the first half. Guardiola’s decision to move him out wide helped, but the red-headed ranger failed to make a positive mark on the game in City’s favor. This needs to change; he must be the second head in the City attacking monster.. CAM. Manchester City. KEVIN DE BRUYNE

C. James Milner gobbled up Raheem Sterling the entire match. Sterling was bullied and overpowered by the veteran Milner. He couldn’t get anything going, and where City might have a decided advantage turned out not to be there. It was a bad match for Sterling to be so thoroughly useless.. RAM. Manchester City. RAHEEM STERLING

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SERGIO AGUERO. C-. Aguero might as well not have been playing. He had a speculative effort outside of the box that didn’t test Mignolet in the second half. Otherwise, the evening for the Argentine consisted of a bunch ill-timed runs that resulted in a offside calls. Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan neutralized City’s most lethal weapon.. ST. Manchester City

N/A. Navas came on for Zabaleta late but didn’t have any time to use that pace to overload the right side of the pitch for a late equalizer.. RWB. Manchester City. JESUS NAVAS

ST. Manchester City. KELECHI IHEANACHO. N/A. Like Navas, Iheanacho came on way too late and could not affect the match’s outcome.