The buzz that followed Manchester City’s win over Liverpool was way more than the hype before it. All sorts of special tags like Champion versus Challenger, League Champions versus Table Toppers were used to describe the game.
All descriptions were accurate.
Liverpool’s staggering numbers had fueled the somewhat unstoppable train till this moment. Going 20 games unbeaten in the Premier League is no mean feat. That kind of run, combined with just 8 goals conceded and 12 clean sheets was surreal.
The fear factor was evident. Must have been the reason why Pep Guardiola concluded that “nobody trusts Manchester City to defeat Liverpool.”
Three goals and 95 minutes later, Man. City had orchestrated Liverpool’s first league loss of the season. A few hours later, Fernandinho and Bernado Silva were receiving praises from all quarters. The most iconic image from the game was all over the place…
Just 1.1cm more …
And we would have had an entirely different game on our hands. pic.twitter.com/zwRV3GJvbt
— ForTheGoal (@iamforthegoal) January 4, 2019
… and Kompany’s tackle on Salah had become a hot debate.
It’s all water under the bridge now. Pep Guardiola is a genius, again. Liverpool’s lead has been cut to four points. What else is there to know?
A desperate team is a dangerous team
Let’s leave Guardiola’s genius at the door-way for a minute. From the blast of the referee’s whistle to when Robertson went down injured – all in the space of the first 10 minutes of the game – it was all Manchester City. It signaled the beginning of what was going to be a long night for Liverpool.
Every City player was chasing. Unlike my description of football, every City player was running desperate. They seemed desperate to not let Liverpool get too far to be caught. They seemed desperate to inflict the kind of pain they felt when Liverpool brought them crashing down to earth in that 4-3 thriller at Anfield. And that’s what gave them the edge over Liverpool.
Fernandinho and Berndado Silva and Aguero’s goal were all products of what a desperate side can pull off.
Liverpool’s weak link
Last season, it was the defense leaking goals. Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson’s arrival has solved that problem. But against City, Liverpool’s midfield had no answer to everything that was happening. Wijnaldum and Milner were simply chasing shadows. Henderson went M.I.A.
Fabinho’s introduction brought sanity to the Reds’ midfield. As you must have guessed, this left Liverpool wondering what might have been had the player started the game.
Football is all about tactics, formations, taking your chances… and plenty of luck.
- Ask a Man. City fan, and they’ll say they were lucky to not have conceded a first goal from Mane’s chance
- Liverpool fans will say they were unlucky to have forced so many goal-line clearances instead of goal-kicks
- Kompany was super lucky to not have been sent off for his challenge on Mohamed Salah
- Sane’s goal off the post: lucky it came off the post and went in?
What’s a football game without questions? Manchester City’s win brought along with it a few questions. Some of them include:
What next for Liverpool?
The real question actually is this: How will the Reds respond to a first league defeat of the season. All of their next 5 PL games look winnable on paper. However, with FA Cup and UCL action set to pack the schedule, will the Reds, at the end of the season, wish they had won this game?
What next for Manchester City
The Citizens desperately attacked and desperately defended in their win over Liverpool. They won’t go down without a fight. But have they started fighting a little bit too late? Is this late resurgence a worrying sight for other teams set to play Guardiola’s side?
Is Lovren a liability for Liverpool?
To an extent, the Croatian was guilty for the goals City scored. He is undoing all the work that Van Dijk is doing. So is it time for Liverpool to start shopping for another defender?
The reality remains that Liverpool are still four points better than their closest contender for the title. Anfield remains a fortress in which it is highly probable that the Reds will win most of their games. Man. City look desperate enough to push Liverpool all the way till the end of the season.
Titles are not won in December/January (except for the Australian Open). Football is crazy and anything can happen. There are so many reasons to love the Premier League and this kind of game was one more reason.
Are you interested in answering any of the questions I asked in the post? Is there something you’d like to add? Feel free to drop your comments and share your thoughts with me.
Author: Rotimi “Papi the Great” Daramola
Rotimi Daramola aka Papi the Great is the owner of ForTheGoal.
A freelance sports writer who focuses on football, Rotimi is also a freelance writer, a copywriter and a football analyst who regularly appears on radio and television to talk football. You can follow him on twitter @papi_thegreat to keep up with his writings, engage him and also find out about how you can secure his writing services.