LIVERPOOL 4-MANCITY 3: CITY ARE FINALLY BEATEN IN BEST GAME OF THE SEASON
I Thought our game vs Arsenal 3-3 draw at the Emirates was the best game of the season , WRONG! This one at Anfield certainly takes that award. The so called Invincible run is over for Pep Guardiola’s Mancity. The best team won. Not the best team in the country because a glance at the league table suggests that has not changed, but certainly the best team on the day won it.. Ignore the closeness of the scoreline. Liverpool were 4-1 up going into the 84th minute, and were not flattered in the least by that margin, they thoroughly deserved it.
They took the game to Manchester City, rattled and hassled them, like no other Premier League team this season. And in a period of eight minutes in the second-half they took the champions elect and Pep Guardiola’s methodology apart.
Will he change? Of course not. This is Manchester City’s first defeat of the campaign. Why should he? Yet there will be no invincible season and, eight months from now, maybe more managers will set up to try to City-proof their tactics.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Karius 6; Gomez 7, Matip 7, Lovren 7, Robertson 8; Oxlade-Chamberlain 8.5, Can 7 (Milner 79), Wijnaldum 8; Salah 8 (Lallana 87), Firmino 8, Mane 8 (Klavan 90)
Subs not used: Mignolet, Ings, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold
Goal: Oxlade-Chamberlain 9, Firmino 59, Mane 62, Salah 67
Booked: Firmino, Milner
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson 6; Walker 5.5, Stones 6, Otamendi 5, Delph 5 (Danilo 31 (6)); De Bruyne 8, Fernandinho 6, Gundogan 7; Sterling 5 (Bernardo Silva 71), Aguero 4.5, Sane 8
Subs not used: Bravo, Mangala, Silva, Zinchenko, Diaz
Goal: Sane 41, Bernardo Silva 83, Gundogan 90+1
Bookings: Sterling, Otamendi
One problem Jurgen Klopp’s men are absolutely the best at this. The high press. Denying defenders the time or comfort of playing out the back. The sheer urgency of their transition play. Remember Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester, at their peak? There is no higher compliment than to say Liverpool reminded of that, but perhaps with greater finesse.
‘Pressing from another planet,’ Klopp called it, and he was right. We were absolutely superb, restricting Manchester City to just four shots on target. That City scored three goals may be a worry for Klopp, but the return of Virgil Van Dijk – missing on Sunday – should shore them up.
Without doubt, this was a hugely positive afternoon for Liverpool. City may have got away from them, and everybody else, this season but a year from now, who knows?
Between the 60th and 68th minutes, Manchester City were dismantled. Liverpool scored three goals and hit a post through Sadio Mane in that time. In the five minutes before, Ederson Moraes made two excellent saves. It was an outstanding period of sustained pressure and focus, not least because Manchester City had started the half well, and had hit the bar through a header by Nicolas Otamendi.
Mutual Respect by both Managers after the game..
Had that header gone in, maybe the outcome would have been different, City would have grown in confidence as they have on going behind in several matches in this campaign. Liverpool’s legs would have grown heavier with effort.
Yet City didn’t catch the break, and Liverpool capitalised. Mohamed Salah had a powerful shot saved by Ederson, who smothered an effort by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a minute later. Yet what happened next will resonate throughout football even if, by May, it may seem of little consequence.
Liverpool scored and scored and scored again. In doing so, they inflicted more damage on City and Guardiola than the rest of their Premier League rivals put together this season.
It is no exaggeration to say they showed the rest of the league how to do it. Manchester United, Chelsea, all those teams that have been made to look second best by City should be a little red-faced on Monday morning. Why couldn’t they do this; even a semblance of it?
chamberlain opening the scoring.
By the end, players that had previously conceded just five times away from home in the Premier League were ade to look skittish and physically soft. Weaknesses it was thought had been shaken off since last summer returned. Frailties surfaced and were exploited beautifully. John Stones, Otamendi, Ederson, the trio key to City’s defensive resurgence were all bullied and harassed into mistakes. It was a stunning display by Klopp’s team.
‘We’ve won it five times,’ the locals like to sing of their European triumphs – and that is coincidentally the number of times Klopp has now defeated Guardiola. One more than Mourinho, despite playing in different leagues for much of his coaching career – but few other victories will give him the pleasure of this. This was the epitome of his performance aims.
So: those three goals. The first came on the hour. Oxlade-Chamberlain played the ball through to Roberto Firmino and he outmuscled Stones on the run, before lifting a fabulous finish past Ederson and in, one bounce, off the far post. 2-1. Was it a foul? No chance. Stones is a centre-half and would be expected to be stronger than this. It reminded of a goal Robbie Fowler scored against Manchester United at Old Trafford, shrugging off Gary Neville in similar fashion.
Within two minutes, the lead increased. Otamendi, looking like the player of two years ago and increasingly uncertain, was caught in possession by Salah just outside the penalty area, the ball fed square to Mane. He sized up the target and hit a fabulous shot which defeated Ederson at his near post. Surely it couldn’t get better than this? Indeed, it could.
Salah overhit a through pass which Ederson collected, but instead of dispatching it with his usual calm, by now City’s back line were frazzled and he delivered it directly back to the sender. Salah, seeing the goalkeeper stranded, knew he had a chance to win the game, and took it: lifting it over his head and into the empty net. Anfield, always loud on occasions like this, went into rapture.
City Manged to pull 2 goals back via Bernado Silva and Gundogan..But the fight back was too little to late and the 3 points belonged to the REDS. No invicibles, this season for Mancity ..while we move above Chelsea to 3rd