Man City goes 10 points clear of Liverpool as Ilkay Gundogan scores twice; Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden net a piece each;
City buries Liverpool’s bleak title defense.
Liverpool lost their 3rd home game in a row for the first time in the Premier League era. The defeat concludes the end of title aspirations for Liverpool as Man City brushed them aside 4-1 at Anfield. In the first half, both the teams went toe-to-toe for possession yet failed to get anything productive out of it. The only notable highlight was the penalty miss from Gundogan.
Gundogan took the lead for the visitors in the 49th minute, redeeming himself of his earlier miss in the first half. Salah pegged one back for the home side by converting on the spot in the 63rd minute. Two howlers from Alisson in the 73rd and 76th minute, gave chance to City to pull the lead to 3-1. Foden piled on the misery for the reds with the 4th goal in the 83rd minute. Alisson’s mistakes have costed the Reds crucial points who are officially out of the title race.
Lets take a look at 5 things we learned from the match.
1)Liverpool’s lack of spending
Many fans foresaw what is in the making of Liverpool’s current season. The Reds should have reinforced at the back after the departure of their 4th senior center back Lovren in the summer. Instead, they decided to use the best ball-winning midfielder in the squad Fabinho, as their makeshift center back. It’s agreeable that Klopp could not have foreseen his 3 senior center backs to be out for the rest of the season but should have strengthened nonetheless at the back in the summer.
Liverpool has been unhurried and methodical in the transfer market, often bringing in players from the lower leagues and pushing them for a spot in the first team over the course of seasons. But their slow-paced transfer policy could be their downfall this season.
2)Van Dijk’s importance to the squad
When Virgil van Dijk was fit, Liverpool was firing on all cylinders amassing 196 points over the course of 2 seasons. They won a champion’s league and a premier league title in that time. Their 44 matches unbeaten run only came to an end with a defeat by the hands of Watford last year. Recently, the reds suffered their first home defeat in 3 years to Sean Dyche’s Burnley a few weeks ago.
It is hard to ignore Van Dijk’s impact at the club since his club-record arrival from Southampton 2 years ago in the January transfer window. Liverpool went from a club that competed for a top 4 spot to a club that competed for titles since his arrival. The summer signing of Alisson also solidified a once leaky backline. Since Van Dijk’s injury earlier this season, the defense has looked shaky.
3) Alisson howlers
Alisson replaced Karius in the summer of 2018 after Karius blunders in the Champion’s league final. Since arriving at the club, Alisson has won the Golden glove in 2018/19 season. He is currently considered one of the best shot stoppers in the world, being lauded particularly for his ball playing ability.
In recent games, Alisson’s form has been sub-par and yesterday his mistakes costed Reds points against Man City. Many fans would remember his tendency to overplay the ball in Alisson’s early day at the club. Over the course of that season, Klopp managed to rectify Alison’s ball-playing antics but yesterday’s loss shows that Alisson still needs to learn to keep it simple sometimes.
Alisson has kept 5 clean sheets and conceded 19 league goals in 19 appearances for the Reds this season. This tally is almost the same amount of goals he conceded the whole of the previous 2 seasons(22 and 23 respectively).
4)The genius of Guardiola
In recent weeks Man City has proven to the critics that they are the real title contenders. With John Stones and Ruben Diaz solidifying partnership at the back, Guardiola has managed to fill the void left at the club by the departure of then-captain Vincent Kompany. Free-flowing City is on a 10 match win-streak and looks destined for the title. Guardiola deserves plaudits for the immense work he has done at the club.
Since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover in 2008 for 200 million, City has acquired the acumen to laud best players in the world. Mansour has spent over 1 billion of his personal money on the club, improving facility, staff, and the players. The owners do not run the club as a source of revenue generation, rather focus on being the best team in the world. Constant and heavy investments have ensured that Pep is provided with the ammunition to lead Man City’s charge for the title.
5)Liverpool’s front 3 dilemma
The dynamic trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino have led the line for Liverpool for the past few seasons. In recent months they look Jaded, Out of form, and in need of a rest. The players Klopp acquired to challenge the front three are nowhere near good as them. Outside of the front 3,only Jota looks capable to add something to the first team. Other signings like Shaquiri, Origi, and Minamino find themselves on the fringes. Liverpool have much worse goals per match this season(1.91) compared to the previous 2 (2.24 and 2.28).
Is the league already over?
Guardiola’s men find themselves on a 14 match winning streak and 5 points clear of the pack in the league. Their current form reminiscent of pre-Kompany departure, the season where they smashed all the records and won the league. Due to inconsistent form shown by rivals, it seems impossible for any team to catch up with City now.
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