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Men's Team

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Possession stats, Stones class & Bernardo's touch

WATCHING BRIEF: Fernandinho and David Silva shadow Sadio Mane

WATCHING BRIEF: Fernandinho and David Silva shadow Sadio Mane

Manchester City produced a battling display at Anfield on Sunday to secure a point away at Liverpool for the first time since 2012.

Club journalist Rob Pollard look back at some of the game’s major talking points.

1A brilliant clean sheet

To earn our first clean sheet at Anfield in the Premier League era is significant.

To do it facing a forward line as devastating as the one Liverpool put out on Sunday makes it even better.

It was a remarkable defence display from City, limiting Liverpool, one of Europe’s elite attacking siders, to just two shots on target throughout the 90 minutes.

Central to that were John Stones and John Stones and Aymeric Laporte, two fine young centre-backs who continue to improve and develop.

Both have outstanding technical ability. Stones takes risks with his forward passing, which continually paid off at Anfield as he kick-started a number of attacks, and Laporte’s ability to ping a long ball that switches play is unrivalled in the English top flight.

But for all their aesthetic beauty, both can mix it physically, too. Stones produced more clearances and won more aerial duels than any other player on the pitch, and Laporte delivered a succession of brilliantly-timed tackles to nullify Liverpool’s attacking stars.

We’ve conceded just three goals in eight Premier League games so far this season. That will please Pep Guardiola just as much as the 21 we’ve scored.

READ: Liverpool 0-0 City | Match Report 

READ: Stones explains Anfield penalty decision 

2Fernandinho masterclass

Just in front of City’s back four, offering outstanding protection throughout, was Fernandinho, perhaps the finest exponent of the defensive-midfield role in the Premier League.

In terms of sensing danger and restricting the impact of opposition forward players, there are few better, and at Anfield we saw the latest in a long line of Fernandinho masterclasses.

He continually made blocks, tackles and interceptions that frustrated Liverpool, and then had the ability to burst forward and buy City time and space when he had possession of the ball.

Going to Anfield is never easy, as we’ve learned so many times in the past. To come away with a positive result requires tenacity and intelligence. Luckily for City, Fernandinho displayed both in abundance.

3Bernardo with another fine display 

It would be unfair not to mention Bernardo Silva at this point, who once again demonstrated his unerring talent and ability.

In a game as fraught and frantic as this was at times, where the quality was often lower than had been anticipated, he continually showcased his excellence. His first touch is mesmerising, his close control defies logic. 

Teams are finding it increasingly difficult to keep Bernardo quiet. He's an absolute gem. 

4Disappointing possession? 

City just shaded possession on Sunday, managing 51 per cent to Liverpool’s 49.

Interestingly, that’s our lowest share in any game since Pep Guardiola became manager in 2016.

Most teams would be pleased in going to Anfield and having more of the ball, even if it was only by a small margin.

But such is the level dominance we’ve come to expect under Guardiola, there was almost a feeling of disappointment we allowed them as much as we did.

STAR ON SUNDAY: Bernardo Silva looks to put City on the front foot

Highlights

Video

Liverpool 0-0 City: Extended highlights

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5Top of the table

It was a significant draw, not just because it ended our losing run on the red half of Merseyside, but because it saw us go into the international break top of the table.

There can be little doubt this year’s title race will be far more keenly contested than last season, when we finished 19 points clear of second-placed Manchester United and 25 points clear of Liverpool.

Any advantage we can get will help us, and to be top ahead of this break is a psychological boost.

Media Watch

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