Pep Guardiola admitted that Kevin De Bruyne’s missed penalty made it “difficult” for Manchester City to beat Liverpool – especially given the additional pressure their opponents put on with an extra attacker.
City had to settle for a draw with the reigning champions, but could have taken all three points had De Bruyne not sent a penalty wide after both teams had scored one goal each.
In a game of fewer chances after the break, City eventually settled for a single point.
They had to weather the storm early in the game, with Liverpool using all four of their star attackers – Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino. Salah gave Liverpool the lead from the penalty spot.
But Guardiola’s side adapted accordingly in the end, and a great goal from Gabriel Jesus earned them a point.
Guardiola admitted that it was a must-not-lose game, rather than a must-win.
He told Sky Sports: “A tight game, they started well, we conceded a goal and conceded a penalty like at Leicester. It was tight, in the second half we had more clear chances but a draw is a fair result.
“It is not easy to defend against Liverpool, normally they have three in attack and now four, they ran in behind and you cannot stay there and they play in between the players. It is not easy to play but we adjusted a bit and had more courage to stay high.
“We made a good goal and unfortunately we missed a penalty. In games or opponents like Liverpool, if you miss a penalty is it more difficult.
“When you cannot win in 80-85 minutes, you cannot lose it. When you play against a contender like Liverpool, you have to try and win but you cannot lose. We know each other quite well.”
Guardiola gave a first start since the first day of the season to Jesus, who is returning from injury.
He came off the bench to score against Olympiakos in the Champions League in midweek. And he also marked his return to the Premier League with a goal.
It means he has scored three goals from three appearances this season, having also netted on the opening day against Wolves before his injury.
Jesus has not been back in training for long, but Guardiola is impressed with his form so far this season.
“Three games, three goals for Gabriel Jesus, he did not train much so he did really good.”
Guardiola disappointed five subs not available
One thing Guardiola was not happy about, though, is the Premier League’s decision to revert from five substitutions to three.
Teams were allowed to make five changes per match when football returned from lockdown last season, and many other European competitions still allow the additional changes. However, clubs voted against keeping the five subs rule intact for the new campaign.
Now, managers are starting to see the ill-effects of that amid a busy schedule. For example, Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold went down with an injury against City and had to go off.
Guardiola pointed to it as an example of why the Premier League’s failure to retain five substitutes as a “disaster”.
He said: “Trent Alexander-Arnold, international English player, now injured.
“All around the world, five substitutions, yet here we believe we are more special. We don’t protect the players, so that is why it is a disaster.
“This calendar came from a year before and I will demand for players to come back otherwise it will be difficult to maintain it.”
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