Liverpool are the only Premier League side to inflict defeat on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City this season and on the back of January’s 4-3 defeat, the pressure was on the Spaniard to come up with a formula to stop the rapid Reds ahead of their trip to Anfield in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final clash on Wednesday.
Guardiola has not had to make many adjustments to account for opposition sides this season so it was intriguing to see what the former Barcelona boss would come up with.
His solution was to drop Raheem Sterling for the visit to his former stomping round and bring in Ilkay Gundogan as an extra body in midfield, to stem the red tide.
It didn’t work. Liverpool were 3-0 up by half-time and the German midfielder – valued at £27m by Transfermarkt – was withdrawn before the hour mark as City embarked on an ultimately fruitless pursuit of a vital away goal.
We’ve taken a look at the numbers behind Gundogan’s display to examine why Guardiola’s tactical plan did not work.
Gundogan simply wasn’t able to influence proceedings. With just 48 touches from 56 minutes of Anfield action, it is clear that the former Borussia Dortmund man wasn’t able to get on the ball anywhere as often as Guardiola would like.
No shots on target and no key passes are symptomatic of a player who was unable to make an impact going forward. It would be a surprise if Sterling again finds himself on the bench for the visit of his former side on Tuesday, on the basis of this Gundogan performance.