Liverpool and Manchester City lived up to their billing as two of the best teams in Europe after playing out a hugely entertaining 2-2 draw on Sunday afternoon but the Reds were extremely fortunate to get anything from the game.
Pep Guardiola’s side dominated from the outset and should have been 2 or 3 goals up inside the opening forty-five minutes. God only knows how Liverpool managed to make it to half-time at 0-0 and fortune favoured them once again when the referee inexplicably decided not to send James Milner off for a clear second booking early in the second half. Milner was given a tough time all afternoon after being targeted by City and had the ref made the correct call and sent him off, Man City would probably have gone on to claim all three points.
Liverpool took full advantage of their good fortune and broke the deadlock thanks to a fine strike from Sadio Mane minutes later. Phil Foden made it 1-1 before a sublime individual goal from Mohamed Salah restored Liverpool’s undeserved lead. Kevin De Bruyne levelled things up at 2-2 with ten minutes remaining and although City pushed for a winner, they had to settle for a point.
Ordinarily, a draw at Anfield would be considered a good result but Manchester City will know this was an opportunity missed, such was their dominance in the match. They were on top, had the chances to put the game to bed, and had Milner been sent off, they surely would have taken all three points back to Manchester.
Liverpool were fortunate to get a draw and their performance against title rivals Man City has drawn criticism from pundits and former players. Steve Nicol – who played for Liverpool for 13 years in the 80’s and 90’s – slammed the Reds claiming they were ‘outplayed’ and were ‘luck to get a point’. It’s hard to disagree with the former defender.
While Klopp has undoubtedly built an excellent team that’s competed for major honours over the past few years, it’s easy to remember Liverpool have only won the Premier League once [in 2020] and they could see another title race slipping away over the coming weeks if City hit their stride.
The Premier League table looks tight right now with just two points separating the top six, however, Manchester City have played by far the hardest fixtures so far. Guardiola’s men have already played Tottenham, Chelsea, Leicester City and Liverpool away from home while they’ve also hosted Arsenal. That means they’ve faced five of the ‘big’ teams already – four away from home – and they are just two points off top spot.
With a favourable run of fixtures coming up over the coming weeks, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Man City moving clear at the top of the table and they may have opened up a decent gap by the time the New Year comes around.
Liverpool will lose Mo Salah and Sadio Mane in January to the AFCON which will no doubt affect results so at this stage you’ve got to say City are rightfully considered favourites for the title. Bookmakers have them priced at 5/6 but I think those odds will have shortened by the New Year and Guardiola’s men look well placed to secure back-to-back titles.
And based on Sunday’s performance at Anfield, it may be Chelsea, not Liverpool, who’ll be City’s nearest rivals this season.