Last Thursday, Liverpool were officially confirmed as the newly crowned champions of the Premier League after Manchester City’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea.
The 30-year-long wait was finally over and Jurgen Klopp’s men arrived at the Etihad last night keen to show why they are 23 points clear at the top.
The scenario, however, did not pan out as planned for the Reds as Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden got themselves on the scoresheet before the half-time. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain completed Liverpool’s miserable night with an unlucky clearance that ended up in the back of Liverpool’s own net.
The gap between the two has now been reduced to 20 points with Liverpool still on the route tofinish the season with an all-time record points tally of 104.
Clinical City punish wasteful Liverpool
The match started in good intensity with Liverpool pressing City high up the pitch trying to prevent their clean ball-progression from the back. This tactic worked well in quite a few occasions throughout the match with Manchester City giving the ball away 19 times just in their own half.
The first chance of the game fell for Roberto Firmino who received a floating ball over the top which caught Ederson way off his line, but the Brazilian goalkeeper managed to palm the ball away.
Watch: Man City thrash Liverpool 4-0 at Etihad
City held a high defensive line throughout the game that allowed Liverpool to get in behind at least four times in the opening ten minutes. Sadio Mane was the main target for the Reds using his pace in order to exploit the space behind Manchester City’s backline. The newly crowned Premier League champions played 66 longs balls in this match with an accuracy of 50%. The opening 20 minutes of the game suggested that Liverpool sooner or later will punish Manchester City’s leaky defence with Mohamed Salah hitting the post in the 19th minute and Mane wasting a good opportunity by heading the ball wide. However, over the next 20 minutes, Manchester City showed why they were the champions last year and will fight to regain the Premier League crown the next season.
On the 25th minute mark, Raheem Sterling was brought down in the penalty box by Joe Gomez and the referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot. De Bruyne took the responsibility and coolly converted the penalty kick scoring his 13th goal of the season in all competitions and his third since the restart of the Premier League season. The Belgian ran the show in the first half often finding himself in between the Liverpool’s midfield and defensive lines in a no. 10 role. He made six key passes and created four chances for his teammates, one of them was converted into an assist, his 17th of the season.
City’s second goal of the night came from a brilliant counterattacking move. Georginio Wijnaldum misplaced a pass which was intercepted by Benjamin Mendy, the Frenchman rolled it into the path of Ilkay Gundogan who’s brilliant vertical pass found Gabriel Jesus. A moment before, Liverpool’s Andy Robertson stepped out to press the German international which freed up space on the right for Phil Foden. The Manchester City’s academy talent found himself in acres of space and played an inch-perfect pass into the feet of Sterling who slotted it home and made it 2-0 for the hosts. It was one of City’s five counterattacking moves that night compared to none from Liverpool.
The third goal came from a combination of City’s brilliance and Liverpool’s positional defensive mistakes. Rodri, Foden and Gundogan played little one-twos on the edge of Liverpool’s 18-yard box with Robertson stepping out to press Foden who played a quick one-two with De Bruyne and completed a scintillating move with a fantastic right-footed finish past Allison. The under-21 England international has already netted four times since the restart of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign. The rising superstar contributes a goal and/or an assist on average every 83 minutes this season.
Watch: Jurgen Klopp agitated during the post-match interview
The second half immediately started with another attacking wave from Manchester City as Gabriel Jesus’ missed a great chance with his shot straight at Allison, Sterling’s shot was deflected and went out for a corner, while Foden was denied his second after Virgil Van Dijk cleared the ball off the line. City’s fourth of the game came from another brilliant counterattacking move with De Bruyne at the heart of the play again. The Belgian played a marvellous through ball which found Sterling who’s shot was deflected by Oxlade-Chamberlain into his own net. Mahrez got Manchester City’s fifth of the night in injury time which was ruled out by VAR due to the handball by Foden. In general, it was a fairly equal game with both teams creating plenty of chances. However, City were a lot more clinical on the night with Liverpool missing all three big chances they created.
Man of the match – Kevin De Bruyne
Yet another scintillating performance by the Belgian who is no doubt one of the favourites to be named the PFA Player of the Year with 11 goals and 17 assists in this Premier League campaign.
Kevin De Bruyne stats vs Liverpool
- Goals: 1
- Assists: 1
- Chances Created: 4
- Big Chances Created: 2
- Passes (accurate): 21 (17)
- Key passes: 6
- Shots (on target): 4 (1)
- Expected Goals (xG): 0.87
- Expected Assists (xA): 0.58
- Dribbles: 4