By William Wood | In Match Reports - Home Games
Manchester City and Liverpool played out a dire 0-0 draw in the much-anticipated fourth place clash in snowy conditions at the City of Manchester stadium, with Micah named amongst the substitutes as he continued his return to fitness.
A win for either side would have strengthened their bid for the final Champions League spot, with City above the Reds in the Premier League table with a game in hand.
Perhaps that explained the tentative nature of both sides’ play, with attacking prowess notable only in its absence – even with Fernando Torres on the bench for Liverpool – as Roberto Mancini and his opposite number Rafa Benitez remained cautious throughout.
Carlos Tevez remained in Argentina on leave, and without his presence the hosts lacked any real cutting edge up-front, an analysis that was pre-empted in the early stages of the game.
In truth, chances were few and far between, Steven Gerrard getting to the by-line and cutting the ball back only for it to go begging as his teammates failed to advance quickly enough.
Ryan Babel was eager to impress but his time on the ball was cut short consistently by the City defence, most notably when Nigel de Jong slid in with a stern challenge to dispossess the young Dutchman.
Gerrard then fired over with a long-range effort while Pablo Zabaleta unleashed on goal only for the ball to flick off Emmanuel Adebayor and divert from its target.
Pepe Reina then almost gifted Adebayor an opportunity when he lost control of the ball, only for Stephen Ireland to turn his back on goal with it at his mercy after Daniel Agger lost possession, much to the dismay of an increasingly frustrated set of fans.
Arguably the finest opportunity of the game fell to Martin Skrtel after Gerrard had picked him out, but the defender headed wide when it appeared nailed on he would at least hit the target.
A non-eventful half was then followed up with a dire opening 20 minutes of the second. Ireland’s break from midfield and subsequent shot was then followed up by the linesman’s flag as both sides continued to struggle to put together a meaningful attack.
Babel was given a wake-up call with a firm ball to the face that flattened him, but the Holland international was soon back on the pitch, albeit in a groggy fashion.
Finally there was a shot worthy of mention as Adebayor did well to hold off the challenge of Javier Mascherano and unleash a curling shot from just outside the box, but Reina was there to palm the ball clear.
If both sets of fans were hopeful that the game would come to life in its latter stages they were to be sorely disappointed. Gerrard did his best to find an opener with another drive that was straight at Given, and Skrtel’s well-timed tackle on Adebayor ensured the Togo front-man lost possession.
The subsequent corner was stood up by Vincent Kompany – who looked imperious at the back throughout despite facing little pressure – but Adebayor’s header flew over, whilst he was brought down by Agger in the box minutes later only for the appeals to be dismissed.
Given the wintry conditions and the appalling lack of quality football on offer, the home crowd almost welcomed the final whistle as both sides’ positions remained much the same.
Man City: Given, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Bridge, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, De Jong, Barry, Adam Johnson, Adebayor. Subs: Taylor, Richards, Santa Cruz, Sylvinho, Toure, Bellamy, Ibrahim.
Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Insua, Mascherano, Lucas, Maxi, Gerrard, Babel, Kuyt. Subs: Cavalieri, Aquilani, Torres, Riera, Aurelio, Benayoun, Kelly.