Three things we learned from Liverpool’s huge win vs. Manchester City

4 Comments

LIVERPOOL — Following Liverpool’s dramatic 3-2 win over Manchester City on Sunday, the home side took a massive leap towards winning their first-ever Premier League title.

Brendan Rodgers’ side are rampant, after they sealed their tenth-straight win to keep them top of the standings on an emotional game at Anfield with the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster being remembered.

But what did we learn from Liverpool’s win? Here’s three things that stuck out.

Liverpool’s midfield just as good as S.A.S.

On Sunday Liverpool’s game-winner Philippe Coutinho curled in a deft finish to seal a massive three points late on. However the little Brazilian was getting stuck in more than anybody else in Red, as his teammates were inspired by his uncharacteristic feisty side. Smashing into City’s left back Gael Clichy at every opportunity, Coutinho was a beast, and the home fans around me at Anfield were applauding and cheering his relentless high-pressure. The diminutive playmaker came up with the game-winning goal so he will, of course, get all the headlines.

source: AP
Liverpool launched themselves ahead, as their midfielders flew out of the traps.

Yet Steven Gerrard put in another monumental display in the middle, Jordan Henderson worked tirelessly to overcome City’s marauding attackers and Raheem Sterling was a wizard on the wing. The teenager’s composure when put clean through in the first six minutes was marvelous and with Roy Hodgson watching on, Sterling looks to be a shoe-in for England’s World Cup squad. We often talk about Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez (but of whom failed to score but created plenty of problems) and rightly so after their 52 goals combined this season, but Liverpool’s midfield came up big when it really mattered.

David Silva can still win City the title

Missing vast swathes of the season through injury, in recent weeks David Silva has been the difference for City. His class shone through and he single-handedly dragged Man City back into the game in the second half. Even when Liverpool were 2-0 up and cruising midway through the first half, every time Silva got on the ball Liverpool’s defense dropped off and a sense of nervousness came over the home fans. Silva proved why in the second half, as he scored the first, his shot was deflected in for the second and his probing passes and clever runs had Liverpool reeling. You sensed he would be the game-winner and in the 75th minute he sent a stretching toe poke just wide of Simon Mignolet’s post as the Kop breathed a huge sigh of relief with the ‘Silva show’ in full flow.

That miss woke Liverpool up and Coutinho’s winner came moments later. Despite this damaging loss, if City win out they can still put pressure on Liverpool and win the title. With six games to go they are seven points behind the Reds, but have two games in hand. If Silva’s star continues to shine brightly in the final few weeks of the season, they have half a chance.

Still question marks over Liverpool’s defense

source: AP
Liverpool’s defense still looked leaky, but a mistake from Kompany saved them.

As mentioned, Silva orchestrated City’s surging second half comeback, yet that came after some slack defending from Liverpool which let the Citizens back into the game. Time and time again in the first half they gave the ball away just in front of their own back four and they started doing that in the second half too. Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho were solid, yet unspectacular, and every time they got on the ball and were urged forward by the home crowd, they hesitated. Full backs Jon Flanagan and Glen Johnson also looked nervy, as James Milner skinned Flanagan several times in the second half, while Johnson failed to deal with Nasri on a regular basis as the English right back stuck out a lazy leg to deflect a shot past his own ‘keeper for City’s second goal.

In the end a defensive mistake from City sparred Liverpool’s blushes, but the fact that they almost chucked a 2-0 lead away, at home, in the biggest game of the season, shouldn’t be overlooked. In the run-in they must get better at the back, but with their incredible offensive power the Reds may neglect their defensive duties. That could cost them in four tight games to come.

Jurgen Klopp hails “perfect day” for Liverpool

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp has had far from an ideal week but his Liverpool side ruthlessly dispatched Southampton at Anfield to end it on a high note.

[ MORE: Liverpool batter Saints ]

Klopp was sent to hospital earlier this week when he felt unwell but the German coach was given a big boost as Mohamed Salah scored twice in the first half, which included a stunning opener, and Philippe Coutinho finished Saints off in the second half as the Reds eased to victory and stayed in touch with the chasing pack behind runaway leaders Manchester City.

Speaking to the BBC after the game, Klopp was happy with what he saw from his side after he was fit enough to be on the bench on Saturday.

“Difficult game, Southampton are a really good football side. It was an open game, we had more chances before we scored. We need to be patient in a lively way,” Klopp said. “The first goal, wow, I have nothing to do with the goal and the second was a fantastic pass and Mo Salah makes great runs. We could have scored more often but it was a perfect day for us.”

Klopp, 50, sees his side just three points off second place after 12 games of the Premier League season, while his side remain firm favorites to qualify for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.

So far, so good.

Yes, Man City will take some catching (and a collapse of their own) but Liverpool’s aim should be to secure a second-straight top four finish and go from there.

With Sadio Mane, Salah, Coutinho and Roberto Firmino in the form they showed on Saturday, plus a fifth clean sheet in six PL games this season at Anfield, the defensive woes Klopp’s team have faced away from home this season aren’t troubling them at home.

Next up is Chelsea at home for Liverpool, which will be a supreme test of their newfound defensive solidity at home. Their results against title contenders this season have been up and down with a draw against Manchester United, hammerings at Tottenham and Man City and a thrashing of Arsenal at home.

Liverpool’s clash against top four rivals Chelsea is followed by five winnable games before they travel to Arsenal on Dec. 22.

Between now and then we will see if Liverpool’s season will amount to more than just a top four challenge. Saturday’s shellacking of a lackluster Southampton may have been “perfect” but a much tougher test awaits next week against a rejuvenated Chelsea side who have Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard purring in attack

Can Liverpool’s oft-fragile defense cope? We are about to find out.

Burnley’s Barnes: “Can we finish the season now?”

Leave a comment

Ashley Barnes broke his season duck in classy fashion, scoring and adding an assist as Burnley stayed in the thick of the race for Europe with a 2-0 win over Swansea City at Turf Moor on Saturday.

[ RECAP: Burnley 2-0 Swans ]

The win shouldn’t be a surprise, as Burnley is humming in style. The Clarets entered the day with a win at Chelsea and draws at Liverpool and Spurs, so why would a visit from Swansea lead to anything than three points.

It’s dream world, really.

From the BBC:

“We’re on a fantastic run. We’re working hard every day and today we were different class.

“Can we finish the season now? No, I’m kidding. there’s still a long way to go and we need to pick up as many points as possible.”

Every win makes more and more believers of the Burnley Football Club. Perhaps more important to the Clarets, each win makes it less likely that Sean Dyche will leave the club for a better gig (Everton), at least right now.

Crystal Palace 2-2 Everton: Toffees battle back for point

Leave a comment
  • Eagles took lead through McArthur, Zaha
  • Baines, Niasse equalized
  • Palace remain bottom of PL table

Crystal Palace and Everton played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The Eagles twice took the lead in a wild first half with James McArthur giving Palace the lead less than a minute in but Leighton Baines soon equalized from the penalty spot. Wilfried Zaha made it 2-1 but Oumar Niasse equalized right on half time and it finished 2-2 after a tense second half.

With the point Palace stay bottom of the table on five points, while Everton are in 16th place on 12 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A rapid start to the game saw Palace take the lead with just 51 seconds on the clock.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek‘s shot was saved by Jordan Pickford but McArthur was on hand to tap home and give the Eagles an early lead.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Soon after Everton were level as Oumar Niasse went down under Scott Dann‘s challenge in the box and Baines smashed home the spot kick. 1-1 with less than seven minutes in.

10 minutes before half time Palace retook the lead as Joel Ward’s cross found Zaha and his flick beat Pickford to make it 2-1. Just when it looked like Palace would lead at half time, Everton leveled.

Julian Speroni had a howler as he gave the ball straight to Idrissa Gana Gueye who played it to Gylfi Sigurdsson who put it on a plate for Niasse to make it 2-2. The Senegalese forward came so close to joining Palace on Transfer Deadline Day back in the summer and came back to haunt them.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

A tense second half saw plenty of players booked in the rain in south London as Palace pushed hard for the winner with Loftus-Cheek going close but Everton’s defense held firm.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Late on Christian Benteke, on his long-awaited return from injury, also went close for Palace but the game ended even at Selhurst.

WATCH LIVE: Manchester United vs. Newcastle United

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Paul Pogba returns for Manchester United, who welcomes Newcastle United to Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes the bench for the Red Devils, which also has Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard as options.

Rafa Benitez will look to best his old nemesis with Dwight Gayle and Joselu up top.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young, Matic, Pogba, Mata, Rashford, Martial, Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Rojo, Shaw, Fellaini, Herrera, Lingard, Ibrahimovic.

Newcastle United: Elliot; Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark, Manquillo; Ritchie, Hayden, Shelvey, Murphy; Gayle, Joselu. Subs: Darlow, Gamez, Mbemba, Diame, Aarons, Perez, Mitrovic.