After one of the misses of this of this or any other season, Adam Lallana apologised to his Liverpool team-mates for squandering what should have been the winner at Manchester City.
Lallana was seven yards out when, seven minutes from time, Roberto Firmino laid the ball back to the England midfielder with goal at his mercy. Lallana failed to get any kind of proper touch on the ball which dribbled into Willy Caballero’s gloves.
“My eyes lit up,” Lallana reflected ruefully after Sunday’s 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium. “I just thought to myself: ‘if I get some connection on this, it’s a goal’. It just took a bounce in front of me and I just might have taken my eyes off the ball for a second and got excited.
“I am absolutely gutted. It could have proven to be the winner and it was a big moment in the game. I am so disappointed with it. Me being me, I went into the dressing room and said sorry to them all. To not hit the target. . .”
Had Lallana scored, Liverpool would have beefed up what is already a remarkable record against the Premier League’s top seven. Liverpool have taken 23 points from the 11 games against their nearest rivals but have lost to Burnley, Bournemouth, Hull and Swansea and failed to win at Sunderland.
The Merseyside derby, which comes immediately after the international break, is Liverpool’s last big match. Their remaining eight fixtures will be against the kind of teams they have struggled against.
“You would rather the problem were this way round rather than struggling to get points against the top teams,” said Lallana. “I am sure it will be easier to correct and get points against the teams that are scrapping against relegation in the future. We know we need to work on that and our record against them needs to be better.”