Eye On EPL

Failings of Reds, City highlighted in defeats

Football fans were treated to two great English Premier League games over the weekend that had lots of goals, a couple of red cards and plenty of entertainment.

But I think the results would not have been good for the health of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

The current Liverpool team remind me of the Singapore Armed Forces FC side which I played for from 2005 to 2009. We were a very attacking team, but we were not so tight at the back. If we had scored five in a game, we would have conceded three in that same match.

However, if you had scored three and still lost, the pressure will all be on the defence. This is what is happening to the Reds now after their 4-3 defeat by Bournemouth.

It is understandable if Liverpool had conceded four to Barcelona, but the loss to the Cherries is undoubtedly embarrassing.

If you had scored three and still lost, the pressure will all be on the defence. This is what is happening to the Reds now after their 4-3 defeat by Bournemouth.

Under Klopp, the Reds' attack have been earning all the praise but over the space of one weekend, big question marks have appeared over their rearguard.

The German will have to figure out how to protect his backline while playing his brand of high-intensity pressing game. There were too many schoolboy errors at the back, and Liverpool defenders need to be far more focused mentally to fend off tougher opponents.

Also, Klopp will have to make a big decision over his first-choice goalkeeper. He gave new signing Loris Karius his first-team chance in recent months, but the German has not been totally convincing as a steady custodian.

Klopp has to decide whether to keep faith with Karius, or reinstate Belgian international Simon Mignolet.

Still, the loss to Bournemouth may be just a one-off for Liverpool, if Klopp gets them to move on and improve quickly from their error-strewn performance.

They can remain genuine title challengers - fitter, faster and more motivated as compared to last year - if they put in more disciplined defensive performances.

On the other hand, Manchester City showed signs of internal tension in their 1-3 defeat by Chelsea on Saturday.

For neutrals, it was a high-quality match to watch, but for City, it must be a huge blow to lose at home to one of their main title rivals.

This is a real tough one for manager Guardiola to swallow because the Spaniard - one of the finest tacticians in modern football - was out-thought by the Blues' shrewd boss, Antonio Conte.

To make it worse, his players lost their heads during a late brawl. Fernandinho's red card for choking Cesc Fabregas was stupid and it gave the referee no choice.

More worryingly, Sergio Aguero's vicious tackle on David Luiz that sparked off the brawl is indication that the star striker is cracking under pressure.

This is his second red card of the season after he elbowed West Ham's Winston Reid in an earlier league game, and it is worrying that he is failing to keep his frustration in check.

Guardiola is known for his strict discipline but this latest episode, on top of poor recent results, raises question marks on how much power he has in the dressing room.

As the City manager mulls over the heavy suspensions for both Aguero and Fernandinho, he must be wondering if he can ever exert his will over the star-studded City dressing room.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 06, 2016, with the headline 'Failings of Reds, City highlighted in defeats'. Print Edition | Subscribe