Liverpool thrash City to go nine points clear

Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring at Anfield

Nine points clear of Guardiola’s Manchester City, surely this must be Liverpool’s year. For Jurgen Klopp’s side, that have only lost one league fixture in 18 months and are unbeaten at Anfield since April 2017, stretching back 46 league matches, its looking good.

1990 was the last time Liverpool won a league title and when Sadio Mane headed home to put Klopp’s side 3-0 up at Anfield, a sigh of relief echoed round from the Liverpool faithful.

There hadn’t been much between the two sides in recent meetings, with City edging them in the finest of margins. A penalty shoot-out victory in the Community Shield at the start of this season saw City take the first silverware of the campaign, while a John Stones goalline clearance for City saw them run out 2-1 winners at the Etihad last campaign. A victory, that proved pivotal in City eventually going on to be crowned champions as Klopp’s side fell just short once again.

But, this top-of-table clash saw an absolutely clinical and ruthless display by a Liverpool side who were 2-0 up after just 13 minutes. Although, it is only November, and it is still all to play for in the Premier League, but it seems this Liverpool side just can’t do no wrong at-the-minute and luck
certainly seems to be in their favour. A nine-point advantage seems like new territory for Liverpool, who let a seven-point lead slip last season, it gives Klopp’s side quite a cushion.

Luck, by all means, can be interpreted in different ways. But when a VAR check was called upon when Bernado Silva bundled into the box and the ball appeared to ricochet onto a Trent Alexander-Arnold arm, the majority thought Fabinho’s opener was going to be overturned.

Referee Michael Oliver, who was situated perfectly to see the incident, saw no wrong doing but replays clearly indicated the ball struck the youngsters arm. Guardiola’s frantic appeals on the touchline soon turned to despair when Liverpool broke at pace, Ilkay Gundogan failed to clear the resulting Mane cross with any conviction, falling to the feet of Brazilian Fabinho.

The midfielder, under no real pressure from any City players, took a touch and smashed home the sweetest of strikes past Claudio Bravo from 25 yards to give Liverpool the lead. The difference in last season’s Liverpool side and their turn of form that see them sitting comfortably unbeaten at-the-top is Fabinho.

Many thought it was going to be Salah that changed Liverpool’s
fortune, then Virgil Van-Dijk, but it’s the Brazilian that seems to be the missing piece of Liverpool’s jigsaw.

Of the 31 games Fabinho has started for Liverpool they are unbeaten, providing the Liverpool back-four with the extra stability and protection it needs. The 6ft 2 midfielder was instrumental in Liverpool’s success against City breaking up play and setting their front three on the attack against a
City backline that looked brittle on Sunday.

City’s brittle defence was breached again just moments later when Liverpool’s outstanding full-backs linked up again as Alexander-Arnold switched the play with a 60-yard pass to his counterpart Andy
Robertson. The Scotland captain then whipped in a delightful cross for Salah to head home past the onrushing Bravo, giving the stand-in keeper absolutely no chance as.

First choice keeper Ederson was ruled out through injury, with Sky Sports critics hitting out at the Chilean international as they felt Ederson would have stopped Fabinho’s opener. VAR was again called into action with a
suggestion of offside, but Salah timed his run to perfection slipping in-between full-back Angelino and the experienced Fernandinho.

The game was settled just after the break after City allowed Jordan Henderson to pick out an inch perfect cross for in-form Mane to head home. Mane was given far too much space at the far post by Kyle Walker and Bravo could do no more than pat the Liverpool forward’s effort into the net.

City rallied late on when B.Silva tucked home Angelino’s deflected cross to make for an interesting finish to the clash but Liverpool were out-of-sight by this point. Guardiola lost himself in emotion once more as referee Michael Oliver failed to notice a second hand-ball by Alexander-Arnold late on.

Sterling cut back attempting to pick out a dangerous cross when the ball struck the England fullback’s arm similar to the incident earlier on in the game. It could have been a completely different affair if both decisions were awarded and who knows how it would have ended up. But, it was
Liverpool who were in-control up until Silva’s goal and City’s chances were few and far between.

City had only won only once previously at Anfield in 38 years and it felt that way as the game quickly moved away from them. Klopp’s head-to-head record against the Spaniard is now greater recording eight wins compared to Guardiola’s seven. It seems, Guardiola has met his match in a rivalry forged in respect, but Sunday’s affair seemed to put a strain on the City boss.

Fourth official Mike Dean seemed to take the brunt of his fury before Guardiola proceeded onto-the-pitch at the final whistle and appeared to sarcastically thank the referee for costing his team.

Tensions on-the-pitch soon began to flare up as well when England duo Joe Gomez and Raheem Sterling had a spat late-on with the pair expected to meet up at St Georges Park tomorrow ahead of England’s European qualifiers.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have now recorded 11 Premier League wins from 12 games and remain undefeated at-the-top, with the question now being thrown to the Liverpool boss whether they could replicate Arsenal’s ‘Invincible 2003/04’ campaign.

Liverpool do now face a tricky fixture period as their fixtures continue to pile up, as they are set to head to Qatar to feature in the club World
Cup. Klopp has demonstrated his frustrations over the congested fixture list and it seems to be Liverpool’s greatest challenge in keeping everyone fit if they stand a chance of going on to become champions.

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