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Bernardo Silva Enlivens A Tense 1-1 Draw At Top Of Premier League Table


Bernardo Silva had the upper hand in a conflict where the most limited resources were time, space, and quality. The seasoned Portuguese midfielder, who has elevated his game to new heights in response to the absences of Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne, appeared to be at ease in what is expected to be the hardest test Manchester City will face this season.

Maybe Silva shone so brightly because so many others around him were displaying rather depressing displays. Whether the reason was the overdone build-up, the early start following an international break, or even just the relative quality of previous matches between Manchester City and Liverpool, this 1-1 draw felt a bit underappreciated for so many outstanding performances from a single player. If Silva hadn’t been involved in this match, you would not have thought England’s top two were playing each other.

Silva was applying his will to this game whether it was on or off the ball. After a risky pass on the edge of the City box, Silva snuck in and executed a pirouette that turned the Liverpool counterpress into a three-on-three attack that left the hosts just needing a better pass from Jeremy Doku to score their second goal.

Although he may not have the appearance of a traditional all-around midfield player, that is precisely what he is—looks can be deceiving. He was shrewd enough to set up his teammates and powerful enough to take Liverpool out in a tackle. In addition to two chances created and five tackles, his stat line featured a personal highlight reel of feints and flicks.

Undoubtedly, he was aware of the necessary actions to expose Liverpool’s soft red underbelly to City. Particularly early on, as Silva fed him the ball, the lively Jeremy Doku continuously blew past Liverpool right back Trent Alexander-Arnold.

After struggling early in the game, Alexander-Arnold, who would have the last laugh in this match by scoring a late equalizer, settled into the defensive game and finished with ten ball recoveries and a man of the match award. Even so, the City midfielder’s manmarking kept him from being a threat offensively—at least for 80 minutes—while putting him to the test on every occasion.

While sending assistance to the trenches seems like the obvious solution, doing so would only make it possible for Silva to receive the ball even closer to the goal.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the first goal of the match originated from the Liverpool right, given the dominance Silva had over that area. Alisson’s quick goal kick swerved awkwardly into Nathan Ake’s path. The No. 20 did his best impression of him as he slid past two defenders and slipped a through ball into Erling Haaland’s path. His 50th Premier League goal came after two touches and a low drive, matching many of the goals that had come before it over the course of 47 games.

Although City had the advantage, it could have easily been Liverpool who broke through first thanks to an Alisson clearance that found Mohamed Salah, who would have been putting pressure on goal if the pass had been made. That kind of told the tale of a first half in which the visitors let good opportunities pass them by. Darwin Nunez’s tendency to find himself in dangerous positions is undoubtedly good news for Klopp overall, but in a close match like this one, a more polished product would be beneficial.

Even though Nunez spent time in prime central locations inside City’s penalty box, his four touches in the 17th minute weren’t quite enough to create a shooting position for the Uruguayan. In contrast, it took Haaland just three touches to convert his one early opening into a goal.

The direction that Haaland had initially set for City was not followed. They hadn’t shown much creativity at all during the competition. Alisson made mistakes on the two occasions when the ball ended up in the net, and it was lucky that Manuel Akanji was found to have shoved him when he allowed a cross to pass through his gloves and find Ruben Dias for the goal.

They had the opportunity to win the game, but Virgil van Dijk and Alisson combined to block Haaland’s near-post flick. Liverpool surged ahead, with Salah putting a cross from Luis Diaz at Alexander-Arnold’s feet. He had beaten Ederson with his low drive through the crowd.

A match that neither team really deserved three points from overall, one wonders how much more exciting this event would have been if the players who had been sent all over the world during the international break had been given a few hours extra sleep. Haaland missed a corner kick from Julian Alvarez during the eight extra minutes that were forced upon the Etihad Stadium, but sharing the spoils seemed fair. If only there had been a few more Silvas on the pitch today.

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