Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to nine points with a 3-1 victory over Manchester City at Anfield tonight.
Fabinho opened the scoring after 6 minutes before Mohamed Salah doubled the Reds’ lead just five minutes later. Liverpool went three up after 51 minutes when Sadio Mane headed past Claudio Bravo. Bernardo Silva’s smart finish cut the deficit to two goals, but it wasn’t enough for Guardiola’s men who fell short at Anfield once again.
There’s certainly a lot to go over. Here, for now, are just five things we learned from today’s game…
A New Back-up Keeper Needed
As all three goals went in today I couldn’t help but say that Ederson would have saved each one. In fact, most keepers would have had a decent chance.
Fabinho’s opener was well hit, but it was straight as an arrow and beat Bravo at his near post. Salah’s header was near enough to have had a better effort at it, and Mane’s second-half goal was disappointing to watch as the Chilean got a good hand to it. I never felt comfortable watching Bravo on the ball either, although at Anfield feeling comfortable is a rare case in itself.
More VAR Contraversy
I’d always try and steer away from complaining about officiating because refereeing is imperfect by nature.
However, to not rule Trent Alexander-Arnold’s action before Liverpool’s first goal as not a handball is, without a doubt, scandalous. VAR has been brought in to prevent these kinds of howlers in matches, and failure to rule the right-back’s hand as in an unnatural position is laughable. Liverpool were very good in this game, but the game turned on this decision and maybe we would have seen a different match had the correct call been made.
City Need To Be More Ruthless
It’s probably fair to say that Liverpool only had three chances in the game today, and scored all three – and all credit to them for doing so. But throughout the game City found themselves in great positions so often. Most notably, Sergio Agüero failed to break his Anfield duck by not being able to get on the end of two near-perfect passes from Kevin De Bruyne – one in either half.
Raheem Sterling created a fantastic chance by way of De Bruyne’s back-heel but chose to square the ball instead of taking on the shot while one-on-one with Alisson. A few wayward headers from Sterling and Kyle Walker could have easily found their way into the net, too. Add to that Angeliño’s deflected poke at goal that hit the post, and it’s easy to see City desperately need to work on their finishing.
City’s Backline Is Nothing Without Laporte
It might seem a strong statement, but I’d say Laporte’s absence from the team’s backline is one of the biggest losses the side could have faced.
The Frenchman is far and away City’s best defender, and the whole team is different without him in it. Nicolas Otamendi isn’t good enough to lead alongside Stones effectively, and Fernandinho, despite his talent, just isn’t a centre-back.
Liverpool Look Like Champions
Moving away from City, it’s important to also look at the quality of today’s opposition. The stats for their start to the season don’t lie and their eight-point gap over second-placed Leicester is telling.
Yes, we can question Bravo, Stones, or the officiating today, but that shouldn’t take away from the quality Jurgen Klopp brought to the table. Liverpool played a great game that wasn’t just reliant on their talented front three as we’ve seen in the past – they controlled possession and on a few occasions strung a great succession of passes together.
City aren’t out of the race by any stretch of the imagination – we’ve won the title from worse positions before – but it will take something special. Luckily, that’s what Pep Guardiola has to offer. The reverse fixture at the Etihad is everything for his team, and the side’s next few fixtures, including Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Leicester, will be massive in following Liverpool every step of the way.
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