Friday, May 29, 2020

Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City: The Reds hold out for a nervy win in a remarkable game

Dan Steeden in Editorial, English Premier League 14 Jan 2018

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High-flying Liverpool welcomed runaway league leaders Manchester City for the game of the weekend at Anfield. The Reds needed a positive result from this clash to keep pace with their top four rivals, while City looked to extend their lead at the top ahead of rivals Manchester United’s Monday night game. This fixture represented a meeting between the two highest scoring teams in the Premier League, and thus promised to be an electric encounter.

The Ox opens the scoring in style

Unlike many of the teams that Manchester City have encountered this season, Liverpool pressed high up the pitch and went on the offensive immediately, spurred on by the boisterous Kop. The bold strategy seemed to be working efficiently in the first ten minutes, and a sea of red shirts swarmed and stifled the City players whenever they were in possession. The home side were winning every battle in the middle of the park, and their constant pickpocketing of possession allowed them to launch a number of dangerous attacks.

Jurgen Klopp’s men were rewarded for their endeavours by a wonderful solo effort from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The former Arsenal man picked up the ball 45-yards from goal, before driving straight through the heart of the visitors’ defence and forcing his shot low into the far corner past Ederson. The goal seemed to give the Reds a supreme level of confidence, and the pace of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane began to wreak havoc amongst the Cityzens’ defenders.

Sane slams home an equaliser

To their credit Manchester City responded brilliantly to falling behind, and they came within a matter of inches of equalising courtesy of a whipped cross by Kevin De Bruyne, which Sergio Aguero couldn’t quite stretch to direct goalwards. Unsurprisingly the Belgian midfielder started pulling the strings expertly in the middle of the park, and it looked only a matter of time before he found Raheem Sterling, Aguero or Leroy Sane in a dangerous area. For all his ability however, Pep Guardiola’s side looked to be missing the extra creative ability of David Silva in the face of a resolute Liverpool defence.

Even the Reds’ front three were contributing to the defensive effort, aiding the midfielders with pressure and tackles high up the pitch. Such actions allowed Liverpool to play on the break effectively, and both sides looked dangerous in the final thirds. Eventually it was the visitors who found the net, with Leroy Sane bringing his side level with a thunderous shot. The winger chested the ball brilliantly into the box past Joe Gomez, before cutting back onto his left and cannoning the ball in at the near post. Loris Karius perhaps should have done better in the Liverpool net, but the equaliser was by no means underserved after some extended pressure by City.

The Reds strike with a sucker punch double

The tempo of the second half soon picked up exactly where the first had left off, and it once again became the end-to-end affair. Nicolas Otamendi almost handed City the lead when he leaped higher than three Reds’ players at a corner, but his header rattled the crossbar, providing another nervy moment for the home side. Both sides looked as if they could score at any moment, and it was soon Salah’s turn to drill a shot, which was well saved by Ederson. The follow-up effort from Oxlade-Chamberlain, in an almost identical position to that of Sane for the goal, was turned past the post brilliantly by the Brazilian shot stopper.

It didn’t take long for the Reds to hit their mark however, and this time it came from the remaining talented Brazilian at Anfield. A decent pass from Oxlade-Chamberlain was taken in expertly by Firmino, who proceeded to dink a sensational chip over Ederson and into the far corner. It was a stunning finish, but Sadio Mane was not to be outdone. After just a matter of moments the Senegalese international found himself in space on the edge of the box, and he hit a wonderful strike into the top left corner, leaving the keeper no chance due to the sheer power and placement. It was a remarkable sucker punch from Liverpool, and their utter dominance was well deserved.

Salah adds a fourth, and it’s too little too late for City

That was not the end of the show from Jurgen Klopp’s side however, with Salah finally getting in on the act. A mishit clearance from Ederson fell straight to the feet of the Egyptian winger, who lifted the ball perfectly back over the keeper’s head and into the empty net. It was a master class from Liverpool, who proved once again why they are one of the foremost offensive teams in football right now. The comfortable lead allowed the home side to play on the break even more frequently as City chanced the game, and it was Liverpool who still looked the more dangerous.

Despite the visitors’ best efforts they struggled to a way through the Liverpool defensive ranks, despite the absence of big money signing Virgil van Dijk for the Reds. De Bruyne began to cut a frustrated figure in midfield for City, and mistakes began to slip into their game more and more frequently as they sought a consolation goal. That goal did come however, and with enough time left to change the mood inside Anfield. Bernardo Silva finished coolly into the bottom corner after some good work down the left flank, and it became Liverpool’s new task to hold on to their slightly more slender lead.

With four minutes added time there was still time for City to find something, and Gundogan added even more nerves to the Liverpool ranks when he bagged another late goal for his side. The midfielder brought the ball down incredibly in a tight spot in the box, and poked a shot low past Karius. From then on it became an all out offensive effort from Guardiola’s men, but they couldn’t quite muster the final effort, and Liverpool ran out as deserved winners.

Final Thoughts

Given that they were 4-1 up in this game, Liverpool made this slightly harder than it needed to be, but to end Manchester City’s unbeaten streak was quite the achievement. Once again the Reds looked irresistible going forward, and fragile at the back, which has been the story of their season. When Virgil van Dijk is fully fit Jurgen Klopp’s side will likely be able to hold onto leads more effectively, as it could have cost them here.

Manchester City’s dreams of an unbeaten season came to an end at Anfield, and in truth they didn’t look quite themselves without the creativity of David Silva to assist Kevin De Bruyne. They still managed to score three times however, and the league title still looks to be theirs, so the reduced pressure from this loss could well end up helping them.

Match Report

Liverpool: Karius; Gomez, Matip, Lovren, Robertson; Can (Milner, 79’), Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah (Lallana, 88’), Mane (Klavan 90+4’), Firmino 

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph (Danilo, 31’); De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Gundogan; Sterling (B. Silva, 71’), Aguero, Sane 

Goals: Oxlade-Chamberlain (1-0, 9’), Sane (1-1, 41’), Firmino (2-1, 59’), Mane (3-1, 62’), Salah (4-1, 68’), B. Silva (4-2, 84’), Gundogan (4-3, 90+2) 

Referee: Andre Marriner 

Yellow Cards: Firmino (60’), Otamendi (65’), Sterling (70’), Fernandinho (72’), Milner (90+4)

Red Cards: None

Player Ratings

Liverpool: Karius 6; Gomez 6.5, Matip 7, Lovren 7, Robertson 7.5; Can 7 (Milner n/a), Wijnaldum 7, Oxlade-Chamberlain 8; Salah 8 (Lallana n/a), Mane 8 (Klavan n/a), Firmino 8

Manchester City: Ederson 6.5; Walker 6, Stones 6, Otamendi 6, Delph n/a (Danilo 6); De Bruyne 7, Fernandinho 6.5, Gundogan 7; Sterling 6.5 (B. Silva n/a), Aguero 6.5, Sane 7.5


Dan Steeden

Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.



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