LIVERPOOL — What. A. Game. Manchester City’s unbeaten run is over.
Liverpool battered Man City 4-3 at Anfield on Sunday (City scored twice in the dying stages) as Jurgen Klopp taught Pep Guardiola a lesson once again as no manager has beaten Guardiola more than Liverpool’s German boss.
A second half blitz from the Reds destroyed City and ended their bid of becoming just the second team in Premier League history to go an entire season unbeaten.
Here’s what we learned from an absorbing encounter at Anfield as Liverpool beat the PL leaders in stunning fashion.
NO COUTINHO? NO PROBLEM
With Coutinho sold for $197 million to Barcelona last week, the big question around Liverpool was who Jurgen Klopp would try to sign to replace Coutinho. But with Adam Lallana and Oxlade-Chamberlain around, Klopp seems keen to give them a chance to stake their claim as Liverpool’s new No.10 who can feed Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
The Ox took his chance.
Yes, he isn’t the same cerebral playmaker as Coutinho, but he has the power, drive and pace to get at the opposition. Liverpool used him in what he regards his best role in the center of the pitch and the Ox scored a sublime opening goal. He won the ball, drove into space and drilled home to give Liverpool the perfect start.
Oxlade-Chamberlain also rattled into tackles, whipped in testing deliveries for Man City’s defense and went close early in the second half with another driving run that forced a save from Ederson.
Yes, Coutinho is a special talent who is tough to replace, but the Ox’s performance proved he is more than capable of at least softening the blow of his exit to Barcelona.
MAN CITY OWN WORST ENEMIES AS UNBEATEN RUN ENDS
It was a devastating nine-minute spell from Liverpool which ended Manchester City’s 30-game unbeaten run in the Premier League.
But Pep Guardiola’s men were their own worst enemies as they lost for their first time in 23 games this season and there hopes of replicating Arsenal’s Invincibles were over.
On paper this trip to Liverpool and the game at Tottenham in April were their toughest games remaining.
Guardiola’s side looked shaky from the start but recovered well in the first half when they equalized and could have taken the lead early in the second half had Nicolas Otamendi’s header gone in and not hit the bar.
Still, Ederson looked shaky all game long as he came and half cleared crosses and took chances with his feet as he handed Salah the chance to lob into an empty net for Liverpool’s fourth.
City have bent but not broken in games against Crystal Palace and Newcastle away from home in recent weeks but against a top four opponent with a potent attack their deficiencies were magnified and ruthlessly exposed.
Guardiola’s men will still be at least 12 points clear by the end of Week 23 and should still win the league comfortably, but the cracks are starting to show.
LIVERPOOL MAKE THEIR CLAIM FOR SECOND
With Liverpool now 18 games unbeaten in all competitions and up to third in the table, only behind second-place Manchester United on goal difference, Klopp’s boys are making their claim to be the best of the rest after City.
Once again they dismantled one of the big boys.
Since Klopp took charge of Liverpool in 2015, Liverpool have won more points in games between the “big six” than any other side (42) and have more wins in those games than any other team. Consistent against midtable teams has been their Achilles heel but there’s no doubting than can go toe-to-toe with the best teams in the PL and deliver.
They were at their ruthless best on Sunday, ripping City apart time and time again in the second half as they finished their chances this time, unlike the first half they mostly dominated in the 5-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season as the game changed when Mane was sent off.
There is a growing optimism around Liverpool and among their fans that Klopp’s long-term plans are coming to fruition. With Virgil Van Dijk on board (although he didn’t play on Sunday due to injury) their defense will improve drastically and going forward they can destroy anyone, as City witnessed.
With Chelsea and Man United struggling for form, it seems like Tottenham and Liverpool are the obvious choices to battle for second behind City this season.