How Mignolet, Moreno and Milner summed up Liverpool's flaws against Manchester City

The three Ms were not in the best of form, and contributed to Liverpool's downfall in different ways

How Mignolet, Moreno and Milner summed up Liverpool's flaws against Manchester City

Liverpools Alberto Moreno, left, and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero challenge for the ball during the English League Cup final soccer match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley stadium in London, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Winning a trophy can often have a transformatory effect on a squad with bigger ambitions.

But for Jurgen Klopp, silverware at Liverpool will have to wait after the penalty shootout defeat to Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final.

Even had they managed to thwart City - who they play again tonight - in the shootout and claim the cup, it would have only temporarily masked the requirement for a major shake-up of a playing staff that has them wedged in mid-table, despite the odd strong performance like against Chelsea and City towards the start of Klopp's tenure.

But the letter 'M' stood out for all the wrong reasons when player names are taken into account.

Mignolet

The goalkeeper did make some good saves during the 120 minutes against City but messed up for Fernandinho's goal at his near post.

Had Hugo Lloris, Petr Cech or David De Gea been confronting that shot, it is highly likely that the ball would not have found its way into the net.

Pre-game, Mignolet had made the joint-most defensive errors in the Premier League with a total of five - three leading to a goal.

For a club of Liverpool's ambition that is plainly not good enough and it is baffling that the Belgian was rewarded with a five-year deal at Anfield. 

Arsenal, who are still inconsistent, have discovered what benefits signing a top class goalkeeper like Petr Cech can bring in terms of points saved and assurance at the back and for Liverpool, Mignolet does not bring a sense of security.

Moreno

Mignolet wouldn't have had to deal with Fernandinho's shot if the left-back had not tucked in quite so much beside Lucas, leaving Liverpool's outside channel exposed to a runner in that moment.

But then again, in most circumstances, the City player would not have scored from that angle.

Liverpool's defending has been shaky at best since the Brendan Rodgers era began and some of that is down to the flaws of individuals.

Picking out one top class defender available to the back four is nigh on impossible with Nathaniel Clyne, arguably the only regular who is not error-prone. Full-back Jon Flanagan is another who is just returning from injury who has shown defensive fortitude at times.

James Milner and Simon Mignolet (Picture by: Peter Byrne / PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Moreno, though, has a propensity to dive into tackles in the box like the penalty he gave away against Norwich last month when he felled Steven Naismith unnecessarily.

He has also had the occasional habit of finding himself on the wrong side defensively, but to single out the former Sevilla player alone for criticism would be unfair as the Liverpool defence remains the worst in the entire Premier League when it comes to total defensive errors. They have made 24 across the season which is even worse than a truly woeful Aston Villa, who have made eight fewer total defensive errors.

And now over to Adrian Collins who has dug out some stats on Mr James Milner.

Milner

The common conception is that he is an honest pro, a hard worker, and a bloody good lad, but Milner's performance on Sunday was far below what would be expected of a leader (and vice-captain) in the Liverpool side. 

His effort in the 55th minute, albeit under pressure, was screwed wide with little accuracy, a trend that played out throughout the rest of the game. 

Like most of his team-mates, he did little in the first half (bar one cross that hit Daniel Sturridge straight in the head at pace) but in the second half and extra-time, he stepped up to take four corners, only one of which found a Liverpool player. Even then, he did Emre Can no favours as the German was back-pedalling to try and make any sort of contact with it.

Image: Mike Egerton / PA Archive/Press Association Images

When he went short on one occasion, the ball was returned to him and he whipped a poor cross straight into the arms of Caballero, and did the same thing with a free kick in a good position in the last 10 minutes of the second half.  

His two most telling passes were in the second half of extra time, when he created two good opportunities with crosses for Origi - pretty much the only balls he delivered into the box that hit another man in a red shirt. He followed those good pieces of play up with a header back to his goalkeeper that actually set Aguero through on goal, and could have cost Liverpool dearly.

Sunday was not an aberration for Milner. His crossing accuracy is just under 30%, and his corners completion rate is about 54%, according to Who Scored.

 

He is by no means the worst in the league, but his display on Sunday suggests that Liverpool might want to look at their set piece routines not just defensively, where they are appalling, but also at the other end of the pitch too.