John Gibbons: Liverpool missed the chance to land a blow on City

But, there’s plenty to be cheerful about ahead of the new season.

The Community Shield is often referred to as the curtain raiser of English football.

This seems silly now considering the Football League has already started. I guess that means the official curtain-raiser for the English football season was actually Luton v Middlesborough on Friday night.

To be fair, it was a cracking game. It had six goals, goalkeeping errors, penalty misses and loads of drama. Although, hang on, didn’t Wolves play in the Europa League the night before?

Maybe there is no curtain raiser anymore and the football never actually stopped.

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Sunday’s game between Liverpool and Manchester City was at least the first chance to see last season’s two outstanding teams in English, and possibly European, football. The signs are they are both ready to continue from where they left off.

While City had the best of the first half, Liverpool came right back at them in the second, and the only shame was that we were robbed of extra time and another 30 minutes of action. I guess no one wants to push themselves too much too soon, but if the game truly is a showpiece of the finest teams the country has to offer, it would have been nice to have shown a little more.

While the chasing pack have all strengthened, there was more than an air of familiarity about the two teams at Wembley. Indeed, of the 22 players who kicked a ball on Sunday, only Rodri was new to either team.

Whether both teams are right not to spend more in the summer we shall have to wait and see.

It was notable Liverpool had no forward on the bench, for example, while City look a touch short of defenders. However, right now the benefits of continuity and player retention are there to see.

Both sides are as talented as they are well drilled. They know exactly what they are about and what they should be doing. There are no surprises for the opposition, yet it remains very hard to stop them.

On Sunday there was nothing to separate the sides, but last season proved the best way to finish ahead of a tough opponent is to beat them.

Liverpool secured more points against the 18 teams below them last season than Manchester City did, but City won the head-to-head and from that the title. It might not be so close again, but Liverpool probably need to bank on beating City at least once in the league this season.

Considering how they finished the game, they will see this as a missed chance to land a psychological blow.

Something to maybe play on the City players’ minds next time a game is tied and Liverpool are looking strong.

Still, there are plenty of positives from a Liverpool point of view.

After a pre-season where Liverpool have looked strangely lethargic and short of quality, they finally looked themselves again in the second half in particular, just in time for the season starting again.

Manchester City showed some exceptional last-ditch defending to deny The Reds the win, but it will be tough for Norwich City to show the same abilities on Friday. Besides, Mo Salah won’t miss that many again. You would assume, and hope.

Others have spent more, but they had to. Both Liverpool and City are already purring nicely going into the new season. You’d fully expect it to be those two that end the season in the top two places.

I just hope the order is different this time around.

Liverpool play Manchester City next on the weekend of November 9th at Anfield. It is unlikely they will play the national anthem before that one, but the match itself feels huge already.

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