Manchester City ended Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the season as they won at home to get themselves back in the title race. Here are some of the lessons we learned from the top of the league tie.
City revive title hopes
Manchester City reignited the Premier League title race by ending Liverpool’s unbeaten run since the start of the new season. The champions moved to within four points of the leaders following their 2-1 victory at the Etihad. This result denied Liverpool the chance to open up a ten-point gap while narrowing the gap between the two sides that stood at seven points before kick off. Four points is still an impressive lead for Liverpool, but the aura of invincibility that shrouded their campaign is now gone. The Citizens will simply have to keep the pressure on with the hope that Liverpool falters along the way.
Pep Guardiola has defensive issues to address
The fact that City have struggled defensively in recent times is not news, but the problem could be bigger than we all think. They have gone on a run of 11 games without a clean sheet in all competitions, with their last clean sheet coming way back in November against West Ham. This fixture brought to the fore their issues at the back as Liverpool looked dangerous throughout the match despite losing. Injuries to key personnel and poor form are to blame for this. Kyle Walker’s loss of form, Benjamin Mendy’s injury, and Vincent Kompany’s fading powers have left City vulnerable at the back, but they need to find a way to get back to their best defensively. Will they go to the market this January?
Mo Salah silenced once again by a Top-Six opponent
Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah had a silent evening against one of the Premier League’s big guns. He has an impressive 16 goals in 28 appearances to his name in all competitions this season, but he tends to go quiet when facing formidable opponents. He has fired blanks against City, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United this season. His record against the crème de la crème in the English top flight this season is only one goal in two games, which came against Arsenal.
Liverpool still the team to beat
Liverpool are still top of the table despite their loss and, to be fair to them, there is no shame in falling to defeat against the reigning champions. To most observers, this was a closely contested match and Jurgen Klopp will be happy with the way his team performed. They had three chances cleared off the line and on a different day, the scoreline could have been totally different. You can expect them to respond to this set back in the coming days as they seek their first league title in over two decades.
Liverpool miss Joe Gomez
Liverpool have improved immensely in their defensive phase and they have probably one of the meanest defences in the world by now. However, Liverpool fans have a reason to worry if Dejan Lovren’s showing against City is anything to go by. His lack of attentiveness gave Sergio Aguero the chance to score the first goal and he made too many rushed decisions throughout the match. He was stepping in for Joe Gomez, who has developed a formidable partnership with Virgil Van Dijk and will be needed for the run-in.